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Published: 2002/06/28
by Kevin Ford

The Jason Crosby Band, The Conduit, Trenton, NJ 6/18

The Jason Crosby Band continues to evolve onstage, stretching out their now
familiar repertoire from the first album, Out of the Box while treating
their audience to a glimpse of things to come. Next week, the band travels
to Maurice, LA to record their second album. Tonight's performance featured
a few songs from that record, as well as a plethora of tunes from Crosby
friends like Oteil Burbridge and Jeff Sipe.

The show kicked off with "Out of the Box". The title refers to a
particularly wonderful snare drum that Dave Diamond began using when
recording that song. Diamond's melodic drum fill, over the bed of guitar and
bass provided by Bill Titus and Mark Calderon, was the highlight of this
stellar opener. Crosby announced the next tune as "Charlie Parker Posey,"
and said it would appear on the new album. Aptly titled, the song's
improvised riffs float along with the speed and dexterity of Bird's
signature compositions, while the funky, bass-driven melody sneers at the
listener like so many of Posey's brooding film characters. Crosby's keyboard
solo had an intriguing Herbie Hancock feel to it. Calderon followed up with
a bass line pleasantly reminiscent of Prince's more progressive
compositions.

The opening melody of "Comin' Back To You," a composition Dave Diamond
brought over from his project Pozzy Ghuru, sounded like Traffic meets The
Meters. Over this sonic foundation, Diamond sang with a soulful
expressiveness, followed by a ripping Titus guitar solo. Earlier in the
week, Col. Bruce Hampton joined the Crosby band onstage in NYC for a few
songs. In tribute to Hampton, Crosby brought up his old friend "Corporal"
Tom Donovan (Freudian Slip) to sing on their version of Hampton's version of
Bukka White's "Fixin' to Die". The foot-stomper was driven by Diamond's
shuffling drums and punctuated by a hot jazz trumpet solo from Jordan Katz
and a wild bluegrass riff courtesy of guitarist Dave Kopek. The floor was
literally shaking with the weight of the now fever-pitched crowd's dancing.
Titus's lilting guitar lines on "Two Times" provided a sweet rhythm over
which Crosby could weave his intricate violin work like silk through a loom.

The chemistry between bassist Mark Calderon and his fellow musicians was
most evident on "Meow Man" and the Jeff Sipe composition "Rainbow." Both
songs traveled back and forth in different directions, with Calderon finding
the perfect rhythm in each. His knowing glances toward Crosby and gleeful
nods toward Titus when each locked into the groove with him showed a
musician clearly having fun onstage – and fun has always been the operative
word in the Jason Crosby Band. Paul Dooley of Rainbow Trout stepped up to
the mic for a performance of that band's new song, "Wanderlust". His singing
is obviously influenced by the soul singers of the late 60's and early 70's,
and he paid homage to them throughout the night. In the middle of
"Wanderlust," he started sampling Jimi Hendrix's "The Power of Soul." Later
in the evening, he would riff on Parliament's "Swing Down, Sweet Chariot"
and "Starchild." While Dooley led the song with his stirring vocals, Crosby
played trumpet with Katz on flugelhorn and Mike DeVellis on sax. The three
horns were powerful without being too loud. And Bill Titus's solo was a
spectacularly hypnotic mix of acid wah-wah, metal and funk.

Dave Diamond once again floored the crowd with his phenomenal drumming on
"Conservative Zork," eliciting several "wow's" from the strings of Calderon's
bass. The set ended with a mean reading of Oteil Burbridge's "Butter
Biscuit." The feast of funk let DeVellis and Katz shine on the horns, while
Crosby slipped through the back way with a violin solo that could have been
one of the vocalists scatting. With the crowd chanting for one more, Crosby
and Co. gleefully relented and returned to the stage for John Lennon's
"Instant Karma." Dooley again handled lead vocals, though pretty much
everyone in the club was singing "we all shine on." A raucous ending to
terrific show.

While Jason Crosby is slowly building a reputation as the guy the big names
love to sit in with, the real reason to see him remains his core band. This
eclectic yet unified group of professionals continues to play the sort of
new and exciting music that may ultimately save the jamband scene from
stagnation.

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