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Published: 2001/12/19
by Paul L. Pearson

4 × 3 EP – The Waz

Bridging the gap between the dance floor and groove-oriented funky jazz, the Waz even has fans in TV’s New Jersey mafia. Is the "4 × 3" EP an offer you can’t refuse? Likely.
Based out of Buffalo, NY, the brainchild of David Wasik is up and running strong with its third release. Touting a full sound described by the band as "ethnofusion, funk, soul and acid jazz", the Waz brings a mixture that is both pleasing and upbeat, with just a hint of psychedelia. It’s cool enough that Dominic Chianese – who plays Junior Soprano on HBO’s "The Sopranos" – joined the Waz on stage at the Knitting Factory in August. This four-song EP is a tasty teaser for what promises to be a good full-length release. While only recorded as a three piece, the Waz is currently playing as a five piece with guitarist Matt Bush adding color, and Eric Storms DJing. A unique CD case design that boasts the use of cardboard material over plastic, however, does seem to detract from the overall professionalism of the package — while functional and environmentally friendly, it simply looks cheap.

What isn’t cheap, however, is the musicianship. Wasik and upright bassist Edgar Henderson lay down a solid tight pocket, driving the jazzy bus and allowing frontman Eric Crittenden free melodic reign on keys and saxophone. It is the funk-laden keys that really define the sound of Booty, with the sax wailing appropriately. Crittenden adds some spoken/sung vocals to T-Lo, which features a bit more soulful funk groove and a nice sax break. So Su Di is purely jazz with Henderson’s exquisite walking under Crittendon’s piano. Le Crunge is another key-driven funk jam that gets a bit spacey and extends past five minutes over Wasik’s jazz rhythm. These songs are fit for live performances in sweaty, smoky jazz clubs with room for improvisation, but will leave more mainstream listeners wondering what exactly is going on.
It’s difficult for me to classify this EP by anything other than its main influences —funky jazz. I don’t know if it’s clearly distinguishable from other bands like MMW, which it most resembles. However, that doesn’t take anything away from it on the enjoyability side. The musicianship is clearly excellent. If you like it funky, jazzy and groovy — then check this one out.

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