Under a dense canopy stacked with overgrowth, “Urban” music grew unabashed through the early part of the millennium, then people really stopped caring about the tangled vines of braggadocio and opulence. A few exquisite varieties of hardy musical perennials fought back in the mainstream and eventually were choked out by the seething onslaught of invasive common brand creepers. Interest all but dried up, a brush fire left ashes at the base of popular R&B/Soul/Hip Hop.
Urban Sound Ag
Conservationist of the sound they love, many urban music artists like Milwaukee’s D’Amato turn inward, finding inspiration in their immediate surroundings. With a focus on live performance, D’Amato’s aspirations don’t outwardly reflect Billboard chart positions, he shows a grow local approach.
He’ll be performing his Neo-soul/R&B inspired sound at the Up and Under this Saturday. He has flavor, not quite reaching Robin Thicke level, however more importantly D’Amato has a fun factor that comes across in his recorded tracks. A live audience always thrives on that vibe.
D’Amato will also fuse emceeing into his set, to preview his upcoming album release “Counterfeit Paradise” set to hit this fall. Delivering a blend of quip word play and vocal harmony, the kid displays a hybrid variety of contemporary R&B music, expressive and earnest yet sharp and to the point. His track BPA free, produced by DJ Moses of Higher Education Records (H.E.R.), makes it plenty clear his feet have been on the pavement at least as much as the carpet.
Keepers of the Funk
Minneapolis’s New Sound Underground will headline the show, a funky electric jazz sextet tailor made for jamming live. New Sound Underground features keyboard, bass, and percussion, and a rotation of brass instruments including trombone, trumpet and tenor sax. Winding their way down the jazz road, the influences heard in their songs swing past some classic jam rock landmarks, drawing on some of the greats you would think of when jamming comes to mind. Nothing close to a cover band however, New Sound Underground transforms styles and tempo fluidly within their songs to a masterful degree.
“Phantoms”, New Sound Underground via SecondStoryGarage on Youtube
I’m standing in a small aisle between sets, voices buzz. Violinist Allen Russell just led us through a pleading progression accompanied by Pat Reinholz (Cello), Rick Aaron (flute), John Simons (double bass), Gabriel Hammer (drums), amazingly coherent for being unrehearsed, a quintet previously unacquainted.
I hear a delicate voice behind me, comically high pitched and soft through the conversations, in a whisper an unmistakably noticeable, “Excuse me”, almost mocking Betty Boop. I make way, turning a shoulder to see a stubbly faced guy in thick trapezoidal plastic framed glasses, much more surly than his voice ever would let on. He’s carrying musical things to the stage in the Okka performance space, Sugar Maple’s conclave for jazz music. David Pederson wouldn’t need much, other than his voice for his performance section.
On first Sunday’s since March, Unrehearsed MKE sewed together traditional improvisational jazz with whatever happened to musically come up. Its most recent installment reached avant garde in a fitful finally. Unrehearsed MKE breaths life into Milwaukee’s jazz faithful, who largely go about their creative way without a “scene”. I expect local jazz artists mostly like it that way, but what musician doesn’t enjoy an audience. The twist in the Unrehearsed MKE’s open format is that each grouping of composers and musicians have never rehearsed or in many cases even met prior to their set.
The final ensemble gets situated. Jay Anderson (tenor sax), Steve Gallam (alto sax), and Timothy Russell (drums/percussion) join Pederson (vocals) on the bandstand. Pederson opens, embarking in a gap in the intro, chirping a light whistle imitating a small song bird, self-qued, with virtuosity. Anderson and Gallam chase on Sax behind Russell’s rhythm variations, an intriguing tandem of soul and moxie. They alternate and weave their notes rapping patterned layers in the sound scape.
Another section arrives and Pederson darts away then toward the microphone delivering a deep a growling vocal didgeridoo, Timothy Russell intensely hunches over the drum kit with two palm cymbals searching and finding his portion of the beat, nicking and knocking the drum heads. Pederson proceeds, scatting, inflecting and modulating his vocals, aided by expressive body movements conveying emotion content going into every utterance. He works in traditional sung melodies occasionally, displaying a true ear for jazz singing’s’ tone and timing. Symphonic and razor-sharp, this quartet channeled a piece of Beat-era magic pulled from a damp, smokey space in the Village, with an alley entry.
Julianne Frey (vocals), Barry Paul Clark (double bass/electronics), and Michael Bettine (percussion/gongs/hand drums) christened the night’s performances in the first grouping.
Another Good Taste
Unrehearsed MKE can safely be added to the menu of enjoyable offerings pouring at Sugar Maple. Sugar Maple boasts 60 craft beers on tap, served by some of the wittiest bar tenders around. Unrehearsed MKE is slated for first Sunday’s at 7:30p.