After I caught LIMITLESS the other night with a couple of friends, another friend called me from the restaurant/bar across the street from the old house my apartment's in to say I had to come over and catch the live music happening right then. So I did.
It was a singer/songwriter/guitar-playing woman I hadn't heard of before—KJ Denhert. She had several musicians backing her while she sang and switched between an amplified acoustic guitar and an electric one. The first musician I noticed was the keyboardist.
Unfortunately I didn't catch his name and it isn't on her website. But when he took a solo just after I entered, after initially thinking he wasn't doing much, he switched his keys to an electric organ sound and started grooving so hard I couldn't stand still.
He was playing riffs that combined the swingin'est aspects of Jimmy Smith, the blues-iest of B.B. and Albert King, the craziest of Ornette or the Ayler brothers and the minimalist-est of Terry Riley. He just tore the melody up and spit it out one little groovy bit at a time.
There was an unassuming looking horn man too, playing what looked to me like a soprano sax and pulling out beautiful improvisations that would have been good enough for any jazz combo I can think of, but I can't find his name on Denhert's website, nor the bass player's, unless I just didn't recognize them. But as I was digging his bass playing my friend leaned over and said, "The guy on bass is amazing," and he was.
Then the percussionist on the congas and other hand drums took a solo and like the keyboardist, turned it into a unique performance. Way in the back was a drummer on a regular jazz kit who was killing the whole thing with the backbeat, and who looked mysterious and equally as unique visually as the rest of the musicians, including KJ Denhert with her robust figure and flailing gray mop of hair poofed way out from the thickness of her natural Shirley Temple curls.
Denhert too put on a visually engaging performance as she grimaced and smiled and mugged on every note she pulled out of her guitars and voice. She did some original tunes and some covers. The band was so tight that their cover on Sting's "Message in a Bottle" turned into one of those once-in-a-lifetime, you-had-to-be-there musical moments.
It wasn't until after their encore when they were breaking their instruments down that someone pointed out to me the drummer, Ray Levier, had been kicking butt while playing without fingers! The victim of a horrible accident when he was eleven in which he suffered third degree burns all over his body and lost all his fingers, Levier's story is so inspirational that even if he sucked as a drummer you'd still want someone to make a movie of it. The fact that he happens to be a great drummer only makes you wonder the more why someone hasn't made that film already.
Anyway, it was a busier than usual evening for me, and a very satisfying one. I'm just sorry I don't have the names of all the musicians that played that night. If anyone else does, please leave a comment so they can get their just recognition on this humble blog (not me humble—though I try to be, probably to your surprise—but humble as in not the biggest blog in the universe).
Here's one of the songs KJ Denhert played that night, and tight as it is (listen all the way to the end to get the full effect of the groove they get going in it), it's nothing compared to the live performance of it the other night that rocked and swung and built to a peak way beyond what occurs in this
video (that does look like Ray Levier on drums though):
And here's her more recent cover of "Help:"