All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 (or more) and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help

531

Sex Mob: Sexmob Meets Medeski live in Willisau 2006

Brandt Reiter By
Published:
Sign in to view read count
Sex Mob: Sexmob Meets Medeski live in Willisau 2006 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.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings | Style: Fringes of Jazz


Shop For Jazz

CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Brass Bang!
Brass Bang!
Tuk Music
2015
buy
Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra: MTO Plays Sly
Steven Bernstein's...

2011
buy
Tattoos and Mushrooms
Tattoos and Mushrooms
Ilk Music
2009
buy
Sexmob Meets Medeski live in Willisau 2006
Sexmob Meets Medeski...
Thirsty Ear Recordings
2009
buy
Diaspora Suite
Diaspora Suite
Tzadik
2008
buy
We Are MTO
We Are MTO
MOWO! Inc.
2008
buy
John Zorn John Zorn
sax, alto
Marc Ribot Marc Ribot
guitar
Sex Mob Sex Mob
band/orchestra
Charlie Hunter Charlie Hunter
guitar, 8-string
Uri Caine Uri Caine
piano
Marilyn Mazur Marilyn Mazur
percussion

More Articles

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.