March 29, 2017
Continuing to nurture their intermittent but nevertheless ongoing collaboration, members of two of the most distinctive ensembles of Burlington Vermont's current music scene played together each Wednesday evening during March at Nectar's and this final night, the culmination of the run, radiated more than a little of cumulative momentum generated throughout the month Soule Monde
consists solely of two musicians, drummer Russ Lawton and keyboardist Ray Paczkowski, long-time members of The Trey Anastasio band among other distinctions including, respectively, Strangefolk and Vorcza. Bassist Josh Weinstein and guitarist/vocalist Bob Wagner are linchpins of the eight-piece Indomitable Soul Band (fronted by vocalist Kat Wright). This increasingly renowned partnership is much greater than the sum of the parts and, based on this particular performance takes unexpected turns to boot.
In an approximately forty-minutes set that seemed half that long, Ray and Russ have rarely if ever sounded so dangerous playing their own tunes, including the newly-composed "Mimi Digs It," preceding the expanded ensemble. But there's a fundamentally joyous underpinning to this duo's collaboration that always comes through: the pleasure they take in playing together leads directly to the distinctive style and sound of originals like this evening's staples "Slide B" and "Rocket. " As a result, while the pair never seems to lack instrumentally, their natural, shared versatility (not to mention experience in various collaborations) smoothly accommodates ancillary input.
So, anyone who's ever wondered how Soule Monde might sound with additional instruments interwoven with their percussion and keyboards had the optimum opportunity in the Soule Indomitable format. Yet, when Weinstein and Wagner joined Lawton and Paczkowski on stage, along with percussionist John Kimock (who unfortunately wasn't too audible in the mix), the foursome took a twisting path that appeared to surprise and please the band as much as a growing audience in this iconic venue.
Perhaps in parody of the bearded rapper offering comic (sic) relief during the set break, Soule Monde's "Whassat" was exactly the crazed contemporary jazz-rock fusion a fan might expect this lineup to create. Patiently and wisely upping the ante with Wagner only in tow at first on "Tango," the full complement of Soule Indomitable hit its stride when the latter wailed his vocal and frenetically soloed his way through "Further on Up the Road;" if, Bob Wagner is imitative of his guitar heroes, he's imitative with as much purpose and passion: Eric Clapton
's Texas shuffle arrangement of Bobby Blue Bland
's song sounded altogether personal.
The first hour of the foursome's set was complete unto itself, resolving quietly from seismic proportions based on Weinstein's deepening of the groove during Buddy Miles
' "Them Changes." A further tribute to these seasoned musicians' savvy lie in their refusal to simple comp on the tune's funk changes, despite the attendees' immediate acclamation of this modified Band of Gypsys arrangement; moving from the chunky rhythm guitar he used so effectively early in the set, the red-haired guitarist then angled his way into a more fluid set of fretboard figures, from which emerged, not so surprisingly but no less pleasurably, the instantly recognizable melodic motif of Jimi Hendrix
' "Third Stone From the Sun."
At this point, Lawton was insistently (and gleefully) pushing the band forward, while his partner Paczkowski filled in melodic spaces in such indiscernible fashion that, when the sounds of the band slowly whispered to a close, everyone on the crowded stage appeared transportedand looking around the room, they were not alone. That interlude looked and sounded like nothing so much as an illustration of that quasi-mystical theory stipulating music is in the air for the taking, awaiting only those musicians sufficiently skilled and open-minded to tap into its flow. Whether this was Soule Indomitable's goal this early spring, mid-week evening, it was certainly their accomplishment as midnight tolled.