Sex Mob/Bitches Brew

A friend of mine convinced me to go see an avant garde jazz concert featuring Sex Mob and Bitches Brew at The Great American Music Hall on Monday night. I’m glad he did.Bitches Brew, a local jazz band formed in tribute to Miles Davis, started the evening off with a number of Davis covers as well as a few original tunes written by their guitarists. Though I have two Miles Davis CDs (Birth of the Cool, Kind of Blue), I wasn’t familiar with any of the songs they played. Davis’ discography spans serveral decades and his style changed with them. I’ve been meaning to explore more of his bop works, and this was just the ticket. Consisting of several percussionists, a keyboardist, a bassist, two guitarists, two saxophonists, and a trumpet player, the band applied layer upon layer of jazz licks and drum beats. Many of the songs they played early on in the set reminded me of the trip-hop/jazz group called the Grassy Knoll. No particular member outshone the others; they were all equally talented. Watching the saxophonists was a lot of fun. Jack Chandler made a baritone saxophone hit some altisimo notes I was never knew that instrument could make. It made me want to break out my alto and jam with them. If only I lived in a house with a practice space that I didn’t have to worry about disturbing the neighbors.After the show I spoke to John Ingle, the other saxophonist, while I purchased one of their CDs. He commented on the Michigan t-shirt I was wearing, asking if I knew who Donald Sinta was. It was a name I hadn’t heard in a long time. Sinta is pretty much a god as far as many saxophonists are concerned. I told him a few of my friends from high school studied under Sinta, though I didn’t know him personally. John told me he knew a few friends who knew him, too. Kinda cool to have that connection, as loose as it may be.Sex Mob was interesting to watch, too, though I didn’t get into their act as much as Bitches Brew. Hailing from New York, this quartet included a drummer on a minimal drum kit, a bassist on an upright acoustic, an alto saxophonist, and a guy who played an instrument that I don’t know the name of that resembled a slide trombone but was the size of a trumpet (a slide trumpet?). The rhythm section was solid, with the drummer adding awesome fills and rhythms to a rock steady beat. The bassist was quite proficient, too, with great licks of his own. I was less impressed with the front members of the band, or at least the music they played. It was often repetitive, motifs played ad nuseum with little development or exploration. The trumpet player relied on his whirling dervish antics to carrie nearly every song along. The saxophone parts rarely added anything to the music, often playing the same parts as the trumpet. I wasn’t a big fan of the throaty tone that the saxophonist used consistently either, though he did seam to be fairly talented as far as dexterity and proficiency are concerned.Overall, though, it was a very fun evening. I’ve started to become more interested in jazz recently and expect to attend more jazz concerts in the near future.

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