26 February 2009

Review: K3

Sullivan Hall 25 February 2009

It was about 7 seconds after the first notes were played out of the instruments of Wayne Krantz, Tim Lefebvre and Keith Carlock that I knew. They were on. Oh, they're always good, they're always great, but sometimes things get elevated to that special place. When they do you can only laugh. I call it the "Krantz giggle" -- a completely involuntary utterance from deep in your soul, conceived by a brain that has no idea how to process music that is this good. I had the giggle within 10 seconds of music being played. I knew then and there this was going to be one of those nights.

I will not see any music better than what I saw last night. Fact. Whether they had rehearsed or whether they were just feeding off old vibrations in the Village air wafting down from Christopher St., I don't know,. but it's been a while since I've seen three musicians locked in at such a high level for such a sustained amount of time. I made the comparison to "Lost" yesterday in preview and last night the music was pure smoke monster, mysteriously appearing out of nowhere, probing the audience's brain and then grabbing them by the leg and dragging them back to its lair.

Keith Carlock may very well be the best drummer on the planet. But usually I'd say he might be the 3rd best musician on stage when he's up there with Krantz & Lefebvre. Last night, there was no doubt who was the leader. Carlock *was* the music last night, everything flowed through him. It was all driven by tempo and energy and he was the driving force. Just. Completely. Insane. Drumming at its finest.

The band took the stage almost at 10pm on the nose -- huzzah for punctuality -- with a pretty much full house packing Sullivan Hall from front to back. I was a bit surprised at the crowd that came out for some K3 on a school night, but apparently there is some pent up demand. In retrospect, I shouldn't have been surprised at all. Personally, I wouldn't have missed it for nuthin' and I'm pretty sure most of the other folks in there felt the same way. Songs didn't really matter as usual for a Krantz gig, although some of those old, familiar riffs were comforting lampposts along the way, triggering memories of sitting at 55 Bar and sipping whiskey in complete awe. And awesome it was. Every tune, jam and vamp appeared and then multiplied on top of itself. Wayne's notes seemed to form into little Wayne's that each played their own notes and so on ad infinitium. It was like that scene in Fantasia where the Sorcerer's Apprentice brings the mop to life and then keeps breaking it into pieces and each piece becomes it's own mop until there were millions of 'em taking over. The music was kind of like that, except all three of them were chopping each others output and instead of chaos we got sheer, mind-bending beauty. Ain't nothing better.

There were a couple of "new" songs and even a few where they were reading off sheet music. My comment was that sheet music at a K3 show was like the plot in a porno, but it appeared they really were going right off what was written down. Wait, someone wrote that? Still, every song launched into wild improvisation, perfectly played, never wanky, never noodling, never drifting, always driving, always concise, always right. Even when mistakes seemed to be made, they were instantaneously turned into silver linings. Jams that seemed to be on the verge of meandering or fizzling, were flipped into subtler mood pieces, with Carlock always doing the heavy lifting of saving near-disasters and making them blissful epiphanies. I loved it when Wayne said " I wrote this song for Jeff Beck. He's recording a new album and I wrote a song for him for the album. He didn't want it." and then proceeded to rip though an absolutely monster composition/jam that would make men greater than Jeff Beck weep in "I'm not worthy" genuflections. I also loved it when the girlfriend of a guy standing next to me said "this doesn't really sound like jazz." I couldn't tell if she was complaining, complimenting or just observing. But she was right and she was smiling.

And he goes on and on... the show went a solid two sets, no encore and I stayed until the bitter end, even though 5 extra minutes of music meant 40 extra minutes of waiting for the train and an hour's less sleep. It was worth it. I'd do it again tonight.

These guys should play the Bowery Ballroom, just because. I'd like to see how that would work out. Regardless, they should play again. Sooner this time than the last.


PS It seems like the golden age of the can't-miss guaranteed weekly resideNYC mind blower has passed us by. If I was 8 years younger and living a subway ride away from every club in the city, where would I go every week for my freak out fix? Krantz was it; then the Duo; is there nothing else or am I just too old and out of touch to know?


makeithappen77 said...

Stellar review as always, Neddy. Wish I was home for it.

Fave current ResidNYCs: Stephane Wrembel at Barbes, Serena Jean & Metzger at the National Underground.

Anonymous said...

Hey Neddy,

Great review - and glad you enjoyed the show! It was awesome, wasn't it?

I work at Sullivan Hall in Online PR. Feel free to DM our Twitter stream and I'll get you my contact info. I'd love to be in touch in the future about events at Sullivan Hall.

Alex Proctor