Blue Whale presents
3 NIGHTS ! OCTOBER 14 / 15 / 16, 2011 9PM – Midnight
123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St. Suite 301, Los Angeles, CA 90012 | 213.620.0908
ADAM BENJAMIN keyboards
BEN WENDEL saxophones
KAVEH RASTEGAR bass
NATE WOOD drums
SHANE ENDSLEY trumpet
General Admission: $15 / $25 (for 2 nights) $35 (for 3 nights)
Tickets available here: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/201128
“Cohesion is the truest constant in the music of Kneebody, a band that inhabits the borderland abutted by post-bop, indie-rock and hip-hop, without seeming to give much thought to the borders” NY Times, 2010
By combining sophisticated compositions and virtuosic improvising, the Grammy nominated group Kneebody has created a diverse, loyal fan base in the United States and Europe. Founded in 2001, Kneebody has built upon an impressive array of individual resumes and conservatory training to create a truly singular voice within the instrumental world.
In 2005 Kneebody released their debut album “Kneebody” on Dave Douglas’ Greenleaf Music Label. In 2007 they followed up with “Low Electrical Worker” on the Colortone Label. A collection of 13 original songs, “Low Electrical Worker” was hailed by saxophonist Joshua Redman as one of his “favorite albums of 2007”. In the spring of 2009, Kneebody and vocalist Theo Bleckmann released “12 Songs of Charles Ives” on the Winter & Winter label and received a Grammy nomination in the “classical crossover” category. Kneebody is presently touring in support of their third studio album, “You Can Have Your Moment,” also on the Winter & Winter label.
Among the ways to pin down Kneebody, a resolutely unpin-downable band, a few come rooted in plain fact. The group uses a common jazz instrumentation — trumpet, saxophone, rhythm section — to make a somewhat less common amalgam of urban-signifying genres, from electro-pop to punk-rock to hip-hop. Four of its five members met in the late 1990s at the Eastman School of Music. Its most recent album, “Twelve Songs by Charles Ives” (Winter & Winter), featuring the vocalist Theo Bleckmann, was nominated for a Grammy this year, in the category of best classical crossover album.
The applicable word there is crossover, which Kneebody has claimed as a directive, more for aesthetic than commercial reasons. This week, during a four-night run in a black box at the Theaters at 45 Bleecker, the band is playing two shows nightly, with featured guests including Mr. Bleckmann and the indie-rapper Busdriver. (Only one of them will be singing Ives.) The run began on Wednesday with the trombonist Josh Roseman and the guitarist Ben Monder: jazz musicians both, though that was only a common dialect.
Mr. Monder fashioned a prelude to the first set: a slow cycle of arpeggios, each note rippling soft and reflective. The bassist Kaveh Rastegar, composer of the piece, eventually joined him, creating a faint pulse with the drummer Nate Wood. Then came a calmly drifting melody, played by the trumpeter Shane Endsley, and the rounded chime of Adam Benjamin’s Fender Rhodes piano. It was all dreamlike and vague, emotionally muted even during a solo by Mr. Endsley, who played in a pacifying murmur.
The set proceeded from this baseline, with an enveloping atmosphere and an arid, soft-hued tonal spectrum, like a sonic equivalent to the painterly abstractions of Georgia O’Keeffe. There was one song by Mr. Roseman, a warmly poplike ballad called “Fortunato,” and two by Mr. Endsley, including one that resembled a warm-up exercise, with his long tones soberly set against a kind of Morse-code syncopation.
A lot was happening on the level of texture, but the music felt pregnant with stasis. An exception came in the other of Mr. Endsley’s tunes, courtesy of the tenor saxophonist Ben Wendel, spewing ribbons of notes, and Mr. Monder, who coarsened his output with distortion. Their heat drew out the band’s wilder side. Or maybe they had warmed up to meet some unspoken need in the music. Typically for Kneebody, it was hard to tell.