Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society
Half Moon Bay, CA
February 9, 2014
The electro-jazz septet of Disappear Incompletely performed selected numbers from the Radiohead songbook, with all arrangements by trombonist and electronics master Rob Ewing
in what might be best described as the jazzification of the English rock band. Ewing brought some of the finest electro-jazz musicians in the San Francisco bay area to the stage: Kasey Knudsen
on tenor saxophone; Patrick Cress on baritone and alto saxophones; Noah Phillips
on electric guitar; Joe Bagale
on bass and vocals; Jamie Moore on drums; and Mike Coleman on the Steinway grand piano and synthesizer. These musicians began performing together in 2006, with the exception of guitarist Phillips, the newest member of the band. Some of the audience were from the band's local fan base and from comments overheard prior to the concert, they were intent on a stellar performance. Those who had never before heard the band were in for a mind-bending experience. This was clearly not your standard jazz, which some had expected.
Although the opening number, "Optimistic," was a rough beginning, by the second, "Climbing the Walls," the band came through with the unity needed to coalesce. Bagale's electric bass opened the piece, with electronics coming in through the back door. Cress, slipped in blowing mellow and easy on his baritone while Moore, over on the trap set, rapped on the toms quick and sure. At one point Cress, again on the baritone, sent a vibration through the big instrument, creating an unusual vibe. He has a way of mesmerizing the audience. By then, Coleman came in on his synthesizer, carrying forward with high notes while Phillips, Moore, and Bagale drew the piece together. Moore kept pushing the rest of the band while Cress held the audience with his big sax. Throughout the first set, they continued to jell, ever tighter and tighter. "Life in a Glasshouse" was a remarkably crafted arrangement. Just at the moment it seemed as though the instruments were taking off in different directions, they flipped the music and it coalesced into one. Ewing's trombone came punching through, playing off Coleman, who ran the keyboard while the others played in a back groove. It was a sensitive piece but punctuated with bursts of power. Drummer Moore sang. His voice reminds one of Pink Floyd's Roger Waters.
The second set was measurably tighter. In the reggaeish tune "How to Disappear Completely," Cress came riding in over the top on his alto, followed by Phillips on guitar. From there, Ewing's trombone entered with Moore's ride cymbal filling in under the rest of the band. Bagale's bass remained in the background but it was clearly there. The piece lifted as though it was ready to take flight when, at the end, it just dipped off into a non-standard finish.
It's not easy to get one's head around their music. None-the-less, Disappear Incompletely are a listening experience not soon forgotten. When the last note had been struck, the audience gave a tremendous applause and called for an encore. Ewing decided on a Radiohead tune named "Videotape." In contrast with some of the prior music, it was a mellow piece with Knudsen and Ewing featured. After the show, down in the Green Room, one of the patron remarked, "This music draws you in and before you know it, it taps into you, it touches you someplace deep inside."