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Published: 2003/04/26
by Mike Greenhaus

Wicked Live 2 – Addison Groove Project

Addison Groove
Addison Groove Project has always been a collegiate band. Weaving their tour
schedule between classes and exams, the seven year-old sextet once dubbed
themselves weekend warriors; 20-somethings that divided their time between
college life and Northeast concert runs. Their sound was smooth, but sparse;
an uptempo blend of jazz and funk. But, in many ways, the sextet seemed lost
in the sea of generic jazz-funk collectives prevalent on colleges across the
country. That is, of course, until Wicked Live 2 was recorded.
Capturing a two run night at Boston’s Paradise last October, Wicked Live
2 is more than a document of the group’s current sound: it’s a diploma.
No longer restricted by college courses and report cards, Addison Groove are
about to embark on their first professional tour and Wicked Live 2
proves why. With age has come attitude and aggression, a hard hitting
approach heard in the deep grooves of bassist John Hall and the rock-solid
drumming of Andrew Keith. A bit older and much more relaxed, Addison have
mellowed their groove, replacing manic finger runs with more pronounced jams
and jazzy guitar solos. Their horn section hits the notes harder and heftier
and keyboard wiz Rob Marscher has added an arsenal of keyboards to his
trademark Rhodes. Layering their sound with elements of techno, hip-hop, and
rancorous rock and roll, Addison’s style is like a layer cake: thick,
chunky, and full of carefully placed surprises.
Perhaps the Paradise itself is sign of Addisons new place in the jamband
galaxy. While Wicked Live was recorded in a Skidmore College pub,
Wicked Live 2 preserves a packed club show, a larger room, with a
larger crowd, both of which beget a larger sound. On "Juniper", guitarist
Brendan McGinn rips rock solos of arena amplitude, while Hall holds down the
funkiest grooves of his recorded career on the newly reworked "New-Geo."
Their sound is technical and tight, full of starts, stops, and surprise
tempo changes. A concert staple since high school, "Pablo’s Reality" is an
organ gem, packed with thick solos, syth work, and dueling horns that take
on an Eastern flavor.
Their tempo changes like a teenager’s emotions, but Addison are no longer
funk apprentices; they’re teachers themselves. "Just So You Know" marries
Maceo Parker to Santana’s "Soul Sacrifice," full of bluesy organ belts,
smooth vocals from McGinn, and a beat James Brown would be proud of. The
psychedelic "Phrenic" packs a jazz-fusion journey with spacey synths,
sounding at times like The New Deal, while the one-two-three punch of "All
About That" is a throwback the group’s trademark jazz jive. Yet, throughout,
AGP always remember that funk comes first, keeping their drums danceable and
their horns on full alert.
But like any group of young alumni, Addison prefer to party. Somewhere in
their psychedelic stew, Addison slip in a sea of kazoos, played by their
audience, and wear their rock-star ambitious on their sleeves. Addison
arent an intellectual jazz-funk bunch, they’re kids who grew up on alt-rock
and Phish and filter those influences into the Herbie Hancock heavy sound.
Three-dimensional and always danceable, Wicked Live 2 is a throwback
to true psychedelic funk, yet another draft in the design the sextet has
been crafting since high school. Darker and dirtier, Addison Groove have
graduated at the forefront of the jazz-funk genre and become a truly
professional project.

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