Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!


Pete Cosey's Children of Agharta Play the Lower East Side


Sign in to view read count
When Cosey and Liebman re-imagined 'Black Satin' this night at Club Cave Canem to close their set, it morphed into something distinct from its original incarnation.
Pete Cosey's Children of Agharta
Cave Canem
New York, NY
June 21, 2007

Pete Cosey's Children Of Agharta channels the fusion music of the great Miles Davis band of the early to mid-1970s. They go down many of the same roads blazed by the Davis group of that era when, in fact, Cosey filled the lead guitar chair. Yet simply comparing Cosey's band to the Dark Magus band does not give Children of Agharta its due credit-even if Miles Davis' shadow was particularly long the night of June 21st, when Children of Agharta was in the groove at Club Cave Canem on the Lower East Side. During the performance, Cosey covered two of Davis' songs, Dave Liebman, another member of the Dark Magus band, stopped by, and earlier in the day Liebman and Cosey had recorded an interview and performed together at Davis' old digs on West 77th street.

But Cosey is his own man and had already earned quite a pedigree by the time he joined up with the Man With the Horn in the 70s. Miles Davis hired Cosey to complement his new and increasingly avant-garde band of the mid-70s, to help him infuse his music with raw rock energy, to 'comp behind his musings on wah wah trumpet and organ. Having already played on some of the choicest Chess Records sides of the 60s, helped found Earth, Wind, and Fire, as well as the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, Cosey augmented Davis' new rock inspired directions. Cosey (and Liebman) were central in shaping that hard funk sound with its metallic edge that increasingly characterized Miles Davis' music as the 70s wore on. Even after Davis' change in musical direction during the 80s and after his passing fifteen years ago, still Cosey has not stopped exploring the sound he and the Dark Magus band put together.

When Cosey and Liebman re-imagined "Black Satin" this night at Club Cave Canem to close their set, it morphed into something distinct from its original incarnation. They concentrated more on the rhythm that simmers underneath that famous refrain, centering their explorations around the bass and guitar groove, wringing every last drop out of it, and restraining themselves from launching into the motif that makes "Black Satin" so instantly recognizable. They distilled an essence from the tune easy to miss behind the wah wah, whistling, and hand-clapping motif that jumped off the original wax and made it so, well, distinctive. This is what makes the band so special. They concentrate on building the core, but never become lazily groove- oriented; they manage to keep a raw and even metallic edge that so many groove projects miss. This core is complex, funky, and constantly morphing around the tight pairing of bassist Melvin Gibbs and drummer JT Lewis.

Children of Agharta is not content to create sprawling canvases of sound around that raw core with conventional instruments. The wide assortment of noise-makers, drums, and electronic gizmoetry that Cosey brings to the stage with him tips off his audience to ambitions beyond simply playing blistering guitar. Cosey's imagination transcends the limits imposed by more standard setups and ensembles: he shapes a particular soundscape, heavily reliant on a wide assortment of musical unorthodoxies to bend the sound waves to his will. With his band he has found a set of kindred spirits; a particular highlight of the band is the seamless integration of Johnny Rosado (DJ Juice) into the sound.

With Rosado, "So What," a 1959 song that often lends itself to hoary, sterile versions, came off without a hitch that evening, reminding us why the song became a standard in the first place. Another standout moment came when the band reworked Willie Dixon's "Seventh Son"-this time led by Pete Cosey thunking out the rhythm on Sansa, or African thumb piano. Innovation, not simply novelty, defines Mr. Cosey's work.

The evening felt good, complemented by the geniality and cordiality of Mr. Cosey as well a sort of seedy coziness that characterized the Cave Canem, a place where bohemians, transgenders, and music fans alike might feel welcome. This is the kind of Lower East Side joint that comes to us unaltered from the turn of the last century, the kind of place where a wrong turn on the way to the john might land you in a peepshow, or where they feature taxi dancing on off nights. Adding to the irie feeling of the place was the lackadaisical pace of the band, management, and even the friends that filled the audience in that little cellar room. The 9:30 showtime ended up as more of a suggestion than some kind of hard and fast ultimatum. We had an extra hour to enjoy the selector as the little cellar room slowly filled up. Cosey and company certainly did not rush to get on with the show. Plastic Rite Aid bags full of gear and pedals remained unpacked and unplugged until at least a half an hour after the scheduled showtime. Nor, when Mr. Cosey was ready to begin was the selector quick to pass the mic or his bandmates anywhere to be found.


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Jazztopad Festival 2017 Live Reviews Jazztopad Festival 2017
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below Live Reviews Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below
by Tyran Grillo
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Henry Threadgill at Tilton Gallery Live Reviews Henry Threadgill at Tilton Gallery
by Kurt Gottschalk
Published: December 10, 2017
Read The Brian McCarthy Quartet At FlynnSpace Live Reviews The Brian McCarthy Quartet At FlynnSpace
by Doug Collette
Published: December 10, 2017
Read Mindi Abair at The Empress Theatre Live Reviews Mindi Abair at The Empress Theatre
by Walter Atkins
Published: December 8, 2017
Read BAN BAM: Music Talking Live Reviews BAN BAM: Music Talking
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 7, 2017
Read "AJAZZGO Festival in Cali, Colombia" Live Reviews AJAZZGO Festival in Cali, Colombia
by Mark Holston
Published: October 13, 2017
Read "Gilad Hekselman at the Cornelia Street Café" Live Reviews Gilad Hekselman at the Cornelia Street Café
by Tyran Grillo
Published: August 13, 2017
Read "Vilnius Mama Jazz  Festival 2017" Live Reviews Vilnius Mama Jazz Festival 2017
by John Sharpe
Published: November 28, 2017
Read "Shirlee Temper At The Empress Theatre" Live Reviews Shirlee Temper At The Empress Theatre
by Walter Atkins
Published: April 30, 2017
Read "The Chris Robinson Brotherhood at Higher Ground" Live Reviews The Chris Robinson Brotherhood at Higher Ground
by Doug Collette
Published: November 11, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!