All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

531

Sex Mob: Sexmob Meets Medeski live in Willisau 2006

By

Sign in to view read count
How best to describe slide trumpeter Steven Bernstein's singular quartet Sex Mob? Maybe we should start with mercurial musical magician Bernstein himself, whose exotic career as sideman, musical director, arranger and composer has included ten years with John Lurie's Lounge Lizards and stints alongside everyone from Bill Frisell to Sam Rivers, the Flying Karamazov Brothers and, oh yes, Bootsy Collins. Or maybe we should look at his career as bandleader, which includes the trumpet-slide guitar-tuba trio Spanish Fly and the boisterous, cataclysmic nine-piece Millennial Territory Orchestra. Or maybe we should just listen to Bernstein's own summing up of Sex Mob (which began life in residency in 1995 at the Knitting Factory's "late night hang" as a vehicle for Bernstein's own compositions and quickly morphed into a band covering everything from film composer John Barry's James Bond music to Duke Ellington to Prince): "Jazz used to be popular music. People would go out to clubs, listen to the music, go home and get laid. Simple as that. We're bringing that spirit back."

"That spirit"—one of wailing, riotous abandon mixed with eccentric song choices, high musicianship and healthy doses of funky downtown grit—is on ample display on the group's first live recording, Meets Medeski, waxed at Switzerland's Willisau Jazz Festival. Less of a meeting than a reunion—groove god John Medeski is an old cohort of the band and can be found on the group's first release, 1998's Din of Inequity—the disc is divided into three seamless "suites," each of which intersperses a couple of originals with covers of Ellington's "Black and Tan Fantasy," Count Basie's "Blue and Sentimental," two Prince tunes, four Barry "Bond" cuts and (I kid you not) "Down on the Farm" and "Little Liza Jane."

It is, in short, an absolute gas. And it works, thanks to Bernstein's impeccable taste and leadership. For all his mischievous rambunctiousness, Bernstein is both a rigorous designer of musical soundscapes and an exacting conductor; no matter how loose the band seemingly hangs, he keeps it under a watchful eye and the music stays concise and true. (Case in point: the longest tune on the CD clocks in at just over six minutes, a somewhat astonishing achievement for a live jazz disc.) As with any Sex Mob show, the Bond tunes are a highlight: both the calamitous "Oddjob," with Bernstein's ragged trumpet soaring atop Medeski's alternately delicate and bombastic Hammond B3, and Barry's gorgeous "You Only Live Twice," done as boozy, woozy, soul-inflected '60s scream, are sublime. Medeski, as expected, sounds terrific in this context (check out his brusque, rampaging solo over Kenny Wollesen's tumbling drums on "Down on the Farm").


Track Listing: Mob Rule Invocation; Mob Rule 1; Black and Tan Fantasy; Mob Rule 2/Little Liza Jane; Sign O The Times; Down On The Farm; This Never Happened to the Other Guy; Mob Rule 3; This Never Happened Part 2; Blue and Sentimental; Kenny Supreme; Darling Nikki; Odd Job; You Only Live Twice; Mob Rule 4; Artie Shaw.

Personnel: Steven Bernstein: slide trumpet; Briggan Krauss: alto saxophone; John Medeski: organ; Tony Scherr: bass; Kenny Wollesen: drums, percussion.

Title: Sexmob Meets Medeski live in Willisau 2006 | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Brass Bang!

Brass Bang!

Tuk Music
2015

buy
 

Plays Fellini

Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho
2013

buy
 

MTO Plays Sly

Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho
2013

buy
Sexmob Meets Medeski live in Willisau 2006

Sexmob Meets Medeski...

Thirsty Ear Recordings
2009

buy

Related Articles

Read Love & Peace CD/LP/Track Review
Love & Peace
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2018
Read La Saboteuse CD/LP/Track Review
La Saboteuse
by Chris May
Published: February 20, 2018
Read Memories of Maynard CD/LP/Track Review
Memories of Maynard
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: February 20, 2018
Read Cosmic Playground CD/LP/Track Review
Cosmic Playground
by Don Phipps
Published: February 20, 2018
Read For Gyumri CD/LP/Track Review
For Gyumri
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: February 19, 2018
Read Sextet (Parker) 1993 CD/LP/Track Review
Sextet (Parker) 1993
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 19, 2018
Read "Pletter På Solen" CD/LP/Track Review Pletter På Solen
by Nick Davies
Published: June 30, 2017
Read "Soulmation" CD/LP/Track Review Soulmation
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 22, 2017
Read "So Cute, So Bad" CD/LP/Track Review So Cute, So Bad
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 5, 2017
Read "Esperanto/Toca Antonio Carlos Jobim" CD/LP/Track Review Esperanto/Toca Antonio Carlos Jobim
by Kevin Press
Published: February 19, 2018
Read "Live in Miami @ the WDNA Jazz Gallery" CD/LP/Track Review Live in Miami @ the WDNA Jazz Gallery
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 5, 2018
Read "Putting Off Death" CD/LP/Track Review Putting Off Death
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 17, 2017