Jive Grave and The Fancy were the line-ups for Wednesday as part of Ars Nova 54/10 music marathon series. Two bands with accomplished musicians and visions. It has been my pleasure to chronicle Geo Wyeth’s music incarnations for the last two years. What a satisfying ride it’s been. I arrived just as Jive Grave was finishing their first song. Geo Wyeth thanked Ars Nova for their support as their 2009 Composer-in-Residence. The residency gave him the opportunity to explore and compose / Haunts song cycle.
With Geo at the helm, the band Jive Grave was spawned. The set explored looping with bells, vocals, guitar notes, solo material, claps, horn arrangements, and an intricate beat between two drummers featuring a drum kit and tom tom. The music frames the lyrics with its melting pot of sound where repetition is fleeting, and snippets of sound are segmented and disjointed. Geo’s lyrics reference legacy, lineage, memory, and the city are pieced together in a collage of ripped, rough, and sometimes soft edges. They played "Black One On the River," with a sound rich in texture, sax accents, vocal harmonics, and Afro-centric guitar. The tremolo picking soared at a high pitch, rising like a blustering current to an abrupt ending. / Will you wait for me for me / in the water / it’s a mighty / current we are running from./ Geo Wyeth emphasized, “this is a song about where I live, Bedford Stuyvesant. “So Funny It Might Be Death” began with scat vocal blurts, claps, and the saxophone played by Tina Richadson and Wyeth’s guitar with punched chords and chiming note flourishes. The celebratory sound was fitting for Wyeth’s lyrical, poetic perspective making the neighborhood come alive / The kids all got scowls under their breath like old church ladies /.
Jive Grave’s sound is cerebral and vibrant, provoking the listener to pay attention. The release date for 7” Blackone in September features vocalist Becca Kaufman whose voice is a treasure and creates striking contrasts. Listen Here geo wyeth, keith parker, dan arnow, tina richerson, mike irwin, simeon kezengwa other featured contributors: tim johnson, becca kauffman, brian newman Flickr Set
The Fancy play gorgeous orchestrated pop that is so smooth and yummy it tastes like butta. Composer/songwriter and lead vocal duo Clara Latham and Seth Garrison are classically trained, and their compositions reflect a commitment to the accessible and smart. What sets this group apart is not just their choice of instrumentation but how it is applied. Keyboard and synth, electric guitar, bassoon, viola, and gorgeous vocals
They started with “Honey Baby,” which had great orchestration with viola scales woven through. “Out Of The City” had luscious harmonies, a creamy confection that is sticky kind of a sophisticated Abba mixed with serious instrumentation. Kind of a dichotomy of sound. The cover song of choice was Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman.” It was a complex interpretation that coordinated a steady bass with the bassoon and viola played in a round. You could visibly see the concentration and efforts of Katherine Young and Amy Cimini, two incredible soloists. They brought out their guest drummer Craig Bray for the song “O Willa” which started slowly with a singing dialogue and grew to fast, furious action and timing.
Their attention to detail was apparent as they asked to bring down guitar levels and more sound on the bassoon and vocals. They care about delivery. I was very impressed with this band. They even have a great informative website and a joy to explore. They got it together!