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Doombalaya: Dinner

Chris M. Slawecki By

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Doombalaya—"Jambalaya" with "Doom" in place of "Jam"—grew out of 2009/2010 jam sessions among Tulane University (Louisiana) jazz student. Since then, they've become deeply integrated with New Orleans' musicians and musical scene, playing in clubs uptown and downtown. "Doombalaya is a New Orleans Jazz/Afrobeat/Rock band that tries to push the limits of what we can do. We all have a deep love for music that's out and music that's in," explains composer and keyboardist Ethan Mitchel Stern. "We're a band full of Frank Zappa/Pharoah Sanders/Art Tatum/Peter King/Paul Simon fans that are developing our own sound."

Their first full-length release, the self-produced Dinner captures every aspect of Doombalaya's adventurous (sometimes even playful) spirit with colorful originals and cover versions from Guiseppe Verdi to Black Sabbath to the music of SuperMario® all rendered in firebrand and freewheeling jam.

You can tell that Doombalaya can jump and party from the opening "Gio Rio," its bass and drums burping out a staccato rhythm that the horns pick up and roast like the bebop classic "Salt Peanuts" strapped onto a rocket then blasted off to Mars. "Intra-Knot" weaves a more relaxed tempo with electric guitar and keyboards alternately constructing and deconstructing its circular, progressive rock hook. "Moonlight Epic" stretches into more traditional verse/chorus song structure with the band building ripples of progressive electric jazz-rock and Motown soul into waves of rhythm surrounding New Orleans vocalist Abby Diamond.

Dinner also serves more exotic fare. Crescent City horns romp through this colorful "Super Mario® Medley," music from and inspired by the videogame series that sometimes chuckles, sometimes laughs out aloud, with the iconoclastic yet humorous spirit of The Mothers of Invention. But even this won't prepare you for the bacon that Doombalaya makes out of "War Pigs," a foundational slab of molten heavy metal from Black Sabbath's landmark 1970 release Paranoid (Warner Bros.) expertly rearranged for their rollicking New Orleans style. Unison (and not so unison) horns burn hot and sinister through the opening free-for-all, and drummer Jason Winikoff thoroughly nails down Bill Ward's original thunder—including and especially Ward's beat-crunching entrance. Nine minutes gives every Doombalaya soloist a chance to shine in this genuine reinvention, always more easily said than done, of this iconic song.

Their rearrangement rocks Guiseppe Verdi's "Va, Pensiero" across a melancholy two-step, one more shining example of Doombalaya's innovative approach and versatility and the sweet final course of this tasty Dinner.

Track Listing: Gio Rio; Intra-Knot; Moonlight Epic (featuring Abby Diamond); Llenos de Balas; War Pigs; Just Right; Vitiligo; Bad Dancing Never Killed the Ground; Super Mario Medley; Va, Pensiero.

Personnel: Matt Rosen: guitars, vocals; Ethan M. Stern: keyboards, guitars, percussion, vocals; Cleveland Donald: trumpet, vocals; Ari Kohn: tenor sax, vocals; David Bode: alto sax; Matthew Van Houten: baritone sax; Nick Benoit: bass; Jason Winikoff: drums, percussion, Mario; Cyrus Nabipoor: trumpet; Abby Diamond: vocals.

Title: Dinner | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Self Produced


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