DJ Logic and Friends, Knitting Factory, NYC- 2/7
"Thank God that I live in New York City"
When the lineup for the Anniversary celebration at the Knitting Factory was
announced, many people could hardly believe what they were reading: A roster
of amazing A-List musicians would collaborate in groups of three over the
course of an hour and a half, performing completely improvised music.
Medeski, Martin, Gordon, Hunter, McBride, Logic, Wasserman….....The list
is a who’s who. The bill also promised others whose names were not announced.
Needless to say, the show sold out very quickly, leaving many people wondering
why they didn’t jump on the opportunity sooner.
I had the opportunity to speak with Logic’s manager, Andy Hurwitz (after the
show), and Mike Gordon (before the show) who both explained who the whole
evening came about. The Knitting Factory contacted Logic about doing two
shows for the Anniversary celebration. Logic, Andy and the rest of the team
thought it would be cool to do one show of just Project Logic, and another
with all of Logic’s NYC friends that he had been performing with over the
years. So, basically, Logic just called people up to see who was available
and invited everyone down. Everyone was very excited at the prospect of
doing the show, as it provided a unique opportunity for these musicians to
experiment in a group setting that they normally wouldn’t be able to do.
When I arrived at the Knit at 6:30 or so, there was already a small group of
people waiting outside looking for any extra tickets, even though I’m sure
that on this night, there would be very, very few, if any at all.
After picking up my ticket, I headed down to enjoy some of the many
great beers the Knit has on tap. After getting one, I headed back upstairs
where my friend and I went into the main room as the musicians were setting
up. Looking around the room, I felt like a kid in a candy store. There,
right in front of me, were a large group of the most important musicians in
our scene, from across the spectrum. Medeski was talking to Charlie Hunter,
and Billy Martin was talking to Rob Wasserman. Looking back, it was truly a
special feeling. I set up shop in the very front left of the main room and
waited for the show to begin.
The show began about 8:30 with Logic taking the stage by himself to say some
brief words about the importance of the Knit over the years, and in fact
Project Logic’s first show was at the Knit. As he was speaking, Christian
McBride took the stage with Kareem Riggins on drums. Christian began the show with a
thumping bassline on his stand-up, Kareem joined in, and soon the trio was
in a full-on jazz jam. With Logic spinning front and center, I was amazed
at Christian’s bass playing, as I had never seen him live. However, for the
first seven minutes or so, it seemed as though the trio could really use
another instrument to fill the space. And soon enough, Scratch from the
legendary Roots crew took the stage. If you are not familiar with Scratch,
he is able to make DJ noises with nothing but his mouth, a spectacular
sight. Logic and Scratch carried the rest of the trio’s set, as Scratch put
on a show for the crowd, quoting Slick Rick’s music on more than one
Kareem, Christian and Scratch left the stage to a loud ovation as Charlie
Hunter and Billy Martin took the stage to begin twenty five minutes of
intense jazz. Charlie Hunter, if you are not aware, plays a guitar with
bass strings on it, so essentially he’s playing both instruments at once.
Watching the communication between him and Billy from the very front where I
was standing was amazing. I’ve seen Charlie once before, but never up
close, and let me say: his playing is nothing short of incredible. As his
fingers danced around the guitar, I found myself wondering on numerous
occasions how someone could possibly be doing what he was doing. Billy Martin’s drumming evokes the same feelings, as he
switched from drums to the cowbell to the tambourine and back.. As he and
Charlie played musical games with each other, Logic continued spinning with
extraordinary precision. As the smiles on each of their faces grew, it
became clear that this trio had locked in, and found something that was
working quite well. The set eventually became a tambourine jam between
Billy and Hunter as Logic was really letting loose on top. At the
conclusion of the set, the crowd erupted into the loudest ovation of the
night, showing their approval as Logic reminded us that nothing we were
seeing was rehearsed at all.
Next up was the mind boggling trio of John Medeski, Mike Gordon and Logic.
Upon their entrance to the stage (Logic never left all night), the crowd
re-erupted upon seeing two of the most popular musicians in our scene.
Chants of "Gordon….Gordon" could be heard around the venue. Each nodded
to the crowd as they leapt into some of the most exploratory music of the
night. For twenty five minutes, the trio really pushed the music, sometimes
getting lost, but always finding their way back. On more than one occasion,
Gordon saved the music by thumping out a grooving bassline that Medeski
would pick up on instantly, which result in an upbeat jam that the crowd
could really dance to. Logic was smiling from ear to ear the whole set as
two of the best played right behind him. In my opinion, his spinning took a
back seat during this set, as he let the other two musicians really control
the music. He was still going the entire time, but it seemed as though his
was content letting Medeski lead this particular group. At the completion,
the crowd cheered wildly, not once, but twice as the two exited the stage.
Having been though most of the announced acts, anticipation was high for the
final trio. Rob Wasserman hadn’t taken the stage yet, so everyone knew he
was coming. But nobody knew who else would be up on stage. Page? Krasno?
Derek? None of the above. Wasserman took the stage with String Cheese’s
Michael Kang, whom I’d seen prior to the show, but had no idea who he would
be playing with. If you’ve never seen Rob Wasserman play bass, it is a
special sight. The man is a professional in every sense of the word. The
only problem with this particular set is that each time it seemed that the
three locked in, just as the jam was peaking, it would get lost. I counted
at least three times that Kang and Wasserman locked in to a tight groove
that seemed to fall apart just when it seemed to be letting loose. Of
course, the possibility exists that this was just the style of the trio, but
I felt more could’ve been done with what they had. That’s not to say that
they weren’t great, because they were. But the potential was there for even
As they exited the stage, Logic thanked everyone for coming and everyone
cheered their approval. Throughout the whole evening, Logic’s spinning was
the only constant, as each trio offered something extremely different from
the next. The man has played with virtually everyone and he showed why on
this night. His ability to fit in with any style is amazing, as he alters
his spinning depending on who he’s playing with. He was clearly enjoying
himself, as was every single person in the room. Logic gave everyone in attendance
a special treat, something nobody will quickly forget.