Iowa City Jazz Fest, Part II

Yesterday we went back down to Iowa City for some more Jazz Fest fun. A great day of music and sun and food and beer all around. We missed out on Euforquestra but showed up in time for some of Garaj Mahal. Garaj really taught me the problems of fusion jazz. While I appreciated the spirit they brought to their explorations, they were so darned earnest about it all that it didn’t really move me. In many cases, there’s a fine line between truly innovative work and boring in fusion, and sad to say that Garaj landed on the latter. Didn’t really do anything for me. We saw some of Groove Ship on a side stage and they put on a solid show (but not up to last year’s side stage band, The Diplomats of Solid Sound–great band!). The IC Fest is really good for veggie street fair, good falafel, soba noodle stir fries, indian food from the veggie restaurant Masala, fine pizza from the Wedge, etc. but they really need a beer booth I think. Beer was strictly a cooler enterprise which we did just fine with.

The headliner of the night was John Scofield and the Scohorns. The horns were a great addition to the Scofield trio sound, really rounding out that jazz guitar. He still puts on a good show with lots of improvisation and a full array of styles. His version of “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” with some traditional New Orleans horns thrown into the mix was quite nice. He also played a long jam of semi-country, semi-jazz rambling that really fit the twilight perfectly. As much as I enjoyed Scofield, though, the night truly belonged to the penultimate act, Bonerama. That’s trombones, folks–get your mind out of the gutter.

Bonerama is an astounding band from New Orleans. I’ve always loved the funk of New Orleans Brass Band music, but they stretch even that to its limit. There is a drummer, guitar player, a sousaphone, and four trombones. I don’t care if you do or do not like trombones, if you do or do not like New Orleans jazz, you should see these guys if you get a chance.  They brew up a ridiculously fun stew of funk, soul, r&b horns, and draw from a broad range of styles and covers in their own inimitable style. From Led Zeppelin to Edgar Winter to John Coltrane to Johnny Cash, all in their own voice (yes, in fact, Folsom Prison Blues works just fine as a trombone ensemble). From straight ahead jazz, to contrapuntal syncopated improv, to rock, to freestyle; they shifted seamlessly from style to style and maintained this incredible groove that you couldn’t help but be caught up in. Clearly the highlight of the weekend.

Here’s Bonerama doing a version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Crosstown Traffic” in an in-store performance in New Orleans’ Louisiana Music Factory (one of my favorite places). The little bit of vocals here are misleading as the singer is actually incredibly powerful (the previously mentioned version of Folsom Prison Blues was downright scary in his voice) while he’s clearly a bit weakened by the jazz fest festivities here, but the mix of horns gives at least a glimmer of what they do. Like I said, just check them out if you get a chance.

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One Response to “Iowa City Jazz Fest, Part II”

  1. Good Stuff for the 4th « The Street Parade Says:

    […] exactly what I’d call energizing music (for that, see upcoming comments about Dave Holland or last year’s fest with Bonerama and Medeski, Martin, and Wood). The music is rather hypnotic. It was really perfect […]

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