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Revolutionary Snake Ensemble

Dressed a la Mardi Gras in feathered masks and multi-colored, sequined costumes, playing music that riotously combines the rhythms of New Orleans brass bands with improvisation and heaping undercurrents of funk, the Revolutionary Snake Ensemble inhabits that rare musical planet on which Sun Ra, James Brown, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, and a myriad of New Orleans marching bands jointly reside. Based physically in Boston since forming in 1990, the horn and percussion-based group is led by saxophonist/composer Ken Field, who describes it as “a funk and street beat brass band, playing New Orleans and other modern improvised celebratory styles.” The Snake's music is rooted in the New Orleans tradition of jazz funerals - a tradition unique to the birthplace of jazz - which began with a 'first line' procession to the burial ground, a brass band playing hymns in a funeral dirge. Afterwards, there was a celebration of the deceased's life, with a 'second line' of musicians playing up-tempo music celebrating the miracle of life. Playing Field's original compositions and rearrangements of traditional tunes, opening up new avenues for improvisation, the Revolutionary Snake Ensemble celebrates, expands, and transforms the brass band tradition - a tradition, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, that is now in diaspora.

A saxophonist/ composer/ improviser, Ken Field is one of Boston's most dedicated and versatile musicians. Since 1988, he has been a member of Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, a New Music/ chamber rock ensemble that began as a spinoff from the legendary Mission of Burma. Birdsongs has recorded seven internationally acclaimed CDs on Cuneiform Records, including the recent Extreme Spirituals, which features the bass/baritone of acclaimed African American vocalist Oral Moses. Field also has an active solo career. An improviser and composer of classical/New Music, he has performed internationally and released four solo discs [Subterranea (O.O.Discs), Pictures of Motion (sFz), Tokyo in F (Sublingual), and Under the Skin (Innova)]. Field has composed music for animation, film, and video, for Bridgman/Packer Dance, and for television, including music for Sesame Street and PBS. As a performer, he has worked as a sideman with countless renowned reggae, funk, R&B, rock, jazz, and world beat artists - and performed for former President Bill Clinton. Field is also the long-standing host of The New Edge, a Boston-based weekly radio show featuring a broad range of creative instrumental music.

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Album Review
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”OUT OF LEFT FIELD: The Revolutionary Snake Ensemble, a writhing, horn- heavy group led by the Boston-based saxophonist and composer Ken Field, dresses in feathered masks and sequined robes and covers a broad range of funk- and New Orleans-inspired music... The group puts a funky spin on everything from Billy Idol to Ornette Coleman.” The New Yorker NIGHTLIFE PICK OF THE WEEK

“I love the disc” Scott Borne, Music Director, WWOZ New Orleans

“If the wailing vigil of Down By the Riverside doesn't rake your spine, chances are you don't have one...It's quite possibly the most convincing treatment of New Orleans by a non-native since Hugh Masakela's Goin' Back to New Orleans...If [Field]'s not re-arranging some holy chestnut, he's dreaming up freaky, wind-jamming floor monsters like The Large S.” Brendon Griffin, PopMatters

“A quirky, idiosyncratic band capable of both partying and intellectual discourse...A formidable slew of potent originals...The Revolutionary Snake Ensemble has taken danceable music to both earthy and progressive levels.” Michael Nastos, All Music Guide

“Unlike most modernisations of supposedly 'traditional' concepts, this one has an informing logic that carries it through, and by the time you get to Minor Vee and Under the Skin, both written by saxophonist/leader Ken Field, you're a voodoo convert.” Brian Morton, The Wire (UK)

“The music is what counts, and Forked Tongue demonstrates why the Revolutionary Snake Ensemble matters.” Steve Greenlee, JazzTimes

“About the most fun I've had musically all year.” Jon Davis, Exposé

“RSE is a gloriously humorous and creative group that makes great music” Jay Collins, Signal to Noise

“Three cheers and five stars - Thoroughly happening!” Glenn Astarita, eJazzNews

“The album is GREAT! [It] touches all the right cornerstones of jazz, but also funks my socks off.” Kyle Press, WKDU Philadelphia

“Can't stop playing this crazy CD over and over again

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I Want That Sound!

Innova Recordings


Live Snakes

Accurate Records


Forked Tongue

Cuneiform Records


Year of the Snake

Innova Recordings


Under the Skin

From: Forked Tongue
By Revolutionary Snake Ensemble

Central Square

From: Year of the Snake
By Revolutionary Snake Ensemble



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