All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

345

Garaj Mahal: Blueberry Cave

Chris M. Slawecki By

Sign in to view read count
The fifth studio release from this San Francisco quartet embodies the modern instrumental jam band movement and preserves the freewheeling legacy of 1970s progressive rock along the way.

Alan Hertz (drums), Eric Levy (keyboards), Kai Eckhardt (bass), and Fareed Haque (guitar) came into Garaj Mahal from varied backgrounds: Eckhardt played in John McLaughlin's trio, for example, while Haque served as an occasional musical sparring partner for the late drummer Tony Williams and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie. But one thing is certain: they share a unified playing spirit. This Blueberry jam damn sure shows off their chops.

The title cut beckons from a pool of electronic keyboard ripples that swim against each other in counterpoint, water-drop echoes of Genesis' "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway that plunge into a floating middle passage centered on a bass solo that suggests Pat Metheny trying on the instrument for size. From out of nowhere, a drum explosion detonates the concluding jam among guitar, keyboard, and bass—pure instrumental dynamite. "Bicycling in Bombay more deeply thumps its bass and drum, an evocative belly dance between Haque's guitar and turntable scratches from DJ Fly.

"The Shadow navigates a complex melody full of twists and stops, chopping out pseudo-funk guitar and organ. Its sleek glide slides into an instrumental free-for-all, with Eckhardt chewing up then belching out the bottom; this fast and focused leadoff track echoes the Frank Zappa band that featured keyboardist George Duke, one of FZ's more jazz-tinged rock ensembles. Eckhardt's flails his turns in "Paladin, a showcase for Levy, and the sitar-centered "Massive at a hummingbird's pace, with no harmonic or rhythmic missteps.

The "Cave closes with an eleven-minute ride through "Celtic Indian, a blazing group excursion and onstage concert favorite. Individually and collectively, the members of the band play like their hair is on fire. Eckhardt spirals so far into and out of the groove that he completely bridges the internal space between the rhythm section in the background and the keyboards and guitar in the foreground. The ensemble blitzkriegs the melody to smoke and ash, like bombardiers, to close.

Within this Blueberry Cave, an impressive display of ensemble interplay lurks under the cover of modern jam band rock.


Track Listing: The Shadow; Alvin; Blueberry Cave;

Personnel: Kai Eckhardt: bass, vocals; Fareed Haque: guitars; Eric Levy: keyboards; Alan Hertz: drums; DJ Fly Agaric: turntables; Tasha Levine: vocals; Shanan Edelheit: vocals.

Title: Blueberry Cave | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Harmonized Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
More Mr. Nice Guy

More Mr. Nice Guy

Owl Studios
2010

buy
Blueberry Cave

Blueberry Cave

Harmonized Records
2005

buy
 

Mondo Garaj

Harmonized Records
2003

buy
Live, Vols. 1-3

Live, Vols. 1-3

Harmonized Records
2003

buy

Related Articles

Read Walk The Walk CD/LP/Track Review
Walk The Walk
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 21, 2018
Read Vol II CD/LP/Track Review
Vol II
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 21, 2018
Read Months, Weeks and Days CD/LP/Track Review
Months, Weeks and Days
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 21, 2018
Read Space Is The Place CD/LP/Track Review
Space Is The Place
by James Fleming
Published: May 21, 2018
Read Poetry in Motion CD/LP/Track Review
Poetry in Motion
by Liz Goodwin
Published: May 21, 2018
Read Murals CD/LP/Track Review
Murals
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 20, 2018
Read "Ockeghem Octets" CD/LP/Track Review Ockeghem Octets
by John Eyles
Published: July 14, 2017
Read "The Subject Tonight Is Love" CD/LP/Track Review The Subject Tonight Is Love
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 31, 2018
Read "Rabble Rouser" CD/LP/Track Review Rabble Rouser
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: October 1, 2017
Read "Small Town" CD/LP/Track Review Small Town
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: August 4, 2017
Read "Life at Nectar's" CD/LP/Track Review Life at Nectar's
by Doug Collette
Published: February 10, 2018
Read "In The Past" CD/LP/Track Review In The Past
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 2, 2017