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Published: 2010/08/09
by Sam Robertson

Skerik's Syncopated Taint Septet
Live At The Triple Door

The Royal Potato Family

Judging from the hectic, wild music that one of a kind saxophonist Skerik creates with his other projects Garage A Trois and The Dead Kenny G’s, I was unsure of what to expect from Skerik’s Syncopated Taint Septet’s Live At The Triple Door. Skerik can sometimes tread the line between mindblowing and too dissonant to listen to, and the prospect of a live recording of Skerik fronting a seven person band plus a string section was enticing but also somewhat frightening, as I could only imagine what kind of instrumental weirdness this band could get into.

There is of course plenty of loose improvisational jamming on Live At The Triple Door, but the music is surprisingly melodic and listenable. Skerik’s approach to the saxophone remains unconventional to say the least, but the wild effects that allow him to sound more like Jimi Hendrix than Charlie Parker in Garage A Trois aren’t found on this album. And unlike the Dead Kenny G’s (Mike Dillon and Brad Houser with Skerik) who embrace dissonance to some extent, Skerik’s Syncopated Taint Septet plays a much more structured form of jazz. “Summer Pudding” and “The Third Rail” in particular are groove heavy jazz funk at its best. Skerik, who uses spacing and subtly in his playing perhaps better than anyone, is generous with the spotlight, and keyboardist Joe Doria and saxophonist/flutist Hans Teuber really stand out with their playing.

The vocals of guest Om Johari stand out as well, if only because vocals don’t typically accompany Skerik’s music. Om Johari leads the band through a strong, stomping version of Nina Simone’s “Mississippi Goddamn” and a less successful cover of Sarah Vaughn’s “The Mystery Of Man.” Though Johari is an extremely talented vocalist, the band shines most on their original compositions, where the incredibly tight big band can stretch out a bit with fascinating solos. As creative as Skerik is with sound effects, it’s a treat to hear him play saxophone without them in a more traditional jazz context where it’s easier to recognize exactly who is playing what. Live shows are extremely rare from Skerik’s Syncopated Taint Septet because of the hassles of putting a seven person band on the road, but fortunately we have Live At The Triple Door, which captures a brilliant performance of Skerik continuing to explore new musical directions in absolutely pristine sound.

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