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Published: 2002/01/22
by Dan Alford

Steve Kimock Band

Business stuff:
Happy New Year! And what better way to ring in the
new rotation than with a man who is ever evolving, yet
in many ways remains constant? That’s right, this
month it is a look at the music of Mr. Steve Kimock.
As the next few months progress, I will be focusing on
other guitarists who have made major impacts on the
jam world, but who also appeal most to those who are
most critical about their music choices. The
unofficial start in the series was last month with
Jorma Kaukonen, but next month will focus on John
Scofield (whose new studio album, Uberjam, is due on
January 26). I will also hit Jimmy Herring, Eric
Krasno, Garcia and a couple others before the year is
out. As always keep in touch with any comments,
questions or reviews.
Music:
SKB Martyr's, Chicago, IL 4-28-01 From Set I: The Long Form The Long Form is a modern musical masterpiece, an instrumental psychedelic journey that is every bit as lavishly textured as The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday. While parts one and four are regularly played, the complete Long Form has only been performed a handful of times. This one, with Bobby Vega, Mitch Stein and Rodney Holmes, is a favorite as it clocks in at 64, count 'em 64 minutes, and develops each section with great care and precision. Part two is admittedly somewhat murky in nature, but even it occupies a space of its own. When the trip over and done, you'll have been to places you've not seen before, places you'll be eager to revisit. Part one opens with its series of slow, heavy chords and spreads out quickly, a shallow pool of water in the forest. Rodney stays with the high-hat as Mitch and Steve ripple slightly, reflecting splintered sunlight. Mitch settles on a little noodle, and Rodney rumbles here and there building to a quick couple of chords that leave Rodney playing just the rims of his kit. The music takes a more pressing tone. Bobby and Mitch trade the briefest phrases as they carve out a chasm of sound. Steve casts about, but doesn't really go anywhere before returning to the theme. As is the process with LFP1, the next venture is a little more focused, a little more energetic than the last. Immediately pleasing, the sounds are much lighter, like a stroll down a country lane. Mitch and Steve toss ideas back and forth, before settling into a fine, extended rhythm/lead section. As Steve starts to fly, Mitch becomes more aggressive, and Bobby's tremors follow hard upon. But Kimock is unhinged and the entire ensemble crumbles into a spacey slipstream pushed by the memory of seconds ago that slides back to the theme. Twenty-two minutes have passed. Rodney establishes the following space as broad but contained- not quite focused. Bobby is grooving, bending notes with fret slides, climbing scales with big fingers. Mitch sends out loopy sounding satellites that look down on the final theme from part one. The music is bright and starts to really come together, and in moments the band is fully ablaze. Recovering from the sonic flare, the quartet heads back into the spacey regions, wherein all four pass a popping note in a playful circle, just waiting for structure to establish itself. And, slowly, it does. Mired somewhere here is a coherent theme to LFP2, but it seems to be lost just below the surface. Bobby lobs in some relatively goofy, Sanford and Son bass. Mitch toys with it, but suddenly the whole movement shifts to steady run. Again, however, the music becomes cartoon-y and playful, Steve skipping along, then running, then charging at full speed- a glorious sprint. He plays a myriad of stylish ideas, and Mitch tosses back a few before the band heads back to refined version of Bobby's bass line, with distinct leads and brief forays into airy, Beatles's space: LFP3 peaks at about 45 minutes. The section climaxes by tumbling into the plunging scales and round bass hits of LFP4. The energy and sheer bounce of this part of the composition often make it a perfect set closer. Mitch takes the first solo, an aggressive grating piece of work that exemplifies what Kimock fans have come to call Love Metal. Bobby is particularly taken, digging in and driving hard. Steve begins his solo by slowing the band and setting up a smooth little stroll. His initial rhythm work becomes twangy as the band returns to ideas first raised in LFP3, working them over before distorting the downward runs of part four. Steve and Mitch bait one another for a few bars. Bobby then steps up to begin a solo that is quickly swallowed by the chain-reaction that is Rodney Holmes. The man's speed and utter ferocity make him a show stealer, and one of the few percussionists on the scene truly deserving of the extended drum solo. He dances, rolls, crashes and explodes for over five minutes, finally drawing his band-mates back for a final stab at LFP4. What follows are cheers, howls, gasps, and laughter: jubilation. "Did you ever see the Far Side Cartoon where the guys are huddled behind the wagon, and the Indians are shooting the flaming arrows at them; and they're saying, 'They're lighting their arrows! Can they do that?' It's the same kinda thing." SKB The Jammys, Roseland Ballroom, NYC 6-28-01
5 B4 Funk w/ Derek Trucks
This 18-minute performance comes from the 2001 Jammys
in New York, and while I have it as filler on the
discs from the SKB show from the following night at
the Wetlands (a worthwhile exploration in its own
right), it may become more readily available soon
enough. It happened in the middle of the show and was
a major highlight among the many mini-sets that
evening. While it was announced that Col. Bruce would
sit in with SKB, and he was waiting in the wings, he
did not take the stage (although he later joined DTB
for Lovelight). Also, guitarist Mitch Stein sat out,
turning over his spot to Derek Trucks, whose band had
the run of the side stage as the Jammys house band.
The quartet heads into 5 B4 Funk at a nice stride.
Derek favors rhythm initially, although he laces some
quiet squiggles around Bobby’s ripe bass. The
audience "woos" along before Steve takes his first
solo, running over a high pass. He is more concerned
with progress than flourishes, but as Bobby slows down
and Rodney moves to the woodblocks, Derek takes over.
He moans out a string of notes that flash, flare and
scar the stage. Rodney crashes the cymbals as
Kimock’s sharp notes usurp the groove and pull it back
to the song.
Kimock goes first on the second outing as well. Both
Rodney and Bobby are moving ahead at a good pace as
they leave the song behind. Steve weaves a series of
shining leads with aggressive chords and straight
rhythm work, in that order. Derek screeches in,
sliding across the frets, and pulls the movement down
to a series of noodles. Meanwhile the rest of the
band reorganizes and starts to climb out of the pit.
Derek responds immediately, riding the musical crest.
As Steve and Derek pass rhythm ideas and brief leads
back and forth, Vega bounds into the forefront for a
few bars. The end of the jam, however, has little to
do with the short decorative licks from the leads; it
is a passage through which Vega continues to pop out
the tune while Rodney Holmes, a veritable tsunami on a
kit, tears down the house with gigantic fills. Many
in the Kimock community complain that 5 B4 Funk is
over played, but this version truly stands out from
the rest.

It’s Official: Phil Lesh and Friends, Love Will See
You Through, GDCD 4401
With the incredible musicianship and chemistry of the
present Phil Lesh and Friends line-up, widely known as
the Phil Lesh Quintet, it is almost easy to forget
that there are few years worth of fantastic music
preceding it when the band was in constant rotation.
In those days, the only regulars were Phil and Steve
Kimock; "a ‘core,’" as Phil refers to the pair in
liner notes to this two-disc set for June of 1999.
The rest of the band includes vocalists Zoe Ellis and
Caitlin Cornwell, drummer Prairie Prince, and Hot
Tuna’s own Jorma Kaukonen and Pete Sears. Disc 1 is
the entirety of set one from June 5, while disc 2 is a
sampling of material from set two. (I’m particularly
fond of the Good Shepherd, but then I usually am.)
The only bit from the first night is a jam > New
Potato Caboose snatched from the second set.
The Mashed Potato Jam picks up somewhere after
Playin’, in a loose, aimless spot. Jorma curls around
pronounced notes from Phil, and while the jam spirals
upward, it ultimately dissipates into nothingness. A
crazy space lashes about, with swirling anomalies and
receding stars, and eventually gives way to hints of a
stroll at about 9 minutes. Jorma and Steve are
playing off each other at strange angles, like the
reflections of a prism. Phil essentially solos with
the other guitars, teasing St. Stephen briefly.
The music calms and Pete chimes in on the piano just
as the band hits the first strains of New Potato
Caboose. Phil’s vocals are strong, muscular, as is
his bass work. Zoe and Caitlin sing back up, adding a
nice chorus to the graceful instruments. With big
thunder, Phil begins the jam, and Steve takes off
right away. In fine fashion, Sears races after him.
Pete’s work is amazing on these discs. As I’ve said
before, he is the most underrated keyboard player
around. His interactions with Jorma are almost
preternatural, but here he exhibits a similar
understanding of Kimock’s ideas and direction. (Of
course, Pete has since been a member of SKB on a
variety of occasions.)
Jorma soon takes the reigns, screeching a fantastic,
whinin’-boy solo that sends Phil into a steady plod.
Pete spins and cascades, bursting into rage of energy
that leaves the band behind. When they catch up, they
settle at an Other One-themed plateau. Hitting a
stride, the unified band lurches forward and settles
to Kimock’s inside out wa work. The sounds spread and
contract into a Spanish Jam. Prairie Prince adds
extra flavor with some interesting, almost Middle
Eastern percussion. Phil’s playing is full of emotion
and intent, as Steve hovers above, and Jorma slinks
below.
The music fades out here, but there is plenty of other
great material here, including a 26-minute St. Stephen
(which is also taken out of context), and incredible
versions of Big Boss Man and Mr. Charlie with Jorma on
vocals. While I really feel that the PLQ soundboard
releases are best thing any band has done for its
fans, I’d also like to see more of the earlier Phil
and Friends material released. It’s worth paying for.

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