Ropeadope’s New Music Seminar, Mercury Lounge, NYC- 12/19
I know I say it frequently, but it's nights like this that remind me exactly
how great it is to live in New York City.
I say that to myself a lot, and it almost invariably happens at any of
Ropeadope's parties, and Thursday night was no exception. Billed as "The
New Music Seminar", Ropeadope lined up several of their own as well as some
friends for what was sure to be a night of intense improvisational jamming downtown
at The Mercury Lounge. The "Merc", as I've also said before, is a great room with an
unobstructed view of the stage from most any vantage point. Of course, I'm
6'2" so that's easy for me to say since the stage isn't very high off the
ground but which presents a problem to shorter people further back
in the room. [Site editor's note: like me] But for the most part, wherever you are is going to
be okay, especially if Sex Mob is on stage, as was the case later in the night.
It was about 10:00 or so when Rob Wasserman, Billy Martin and DJ Logic took
the stage to embark on their musical journey. At this point, most everyone
has seen Billy Martin in one capacity or another, but if you are one of the
unlucky few who hasn't, that desire should vault itself to the top of your
"to-do" list. "IllyB" as he is affectionately called is quite simply one of
the greatest drummers in any musical genre today. No, he doesn't have a
huge rotating kit ala Neil Pert. No, he doesn't pound his drums with the
ferocity of many other drummers. Instead he plays with a subtle finesse that
belies the complexity in what he's doing. How many drummers could go on
tour by themselves? How many drummers can break out a tambourine
in the middle of a song and not only get cheered for doing so, but are
encouraged to do it? Billy's drumming was on display on this night, as it
saved their disjointed set on numerous occasions. Fortunately, Garaj Mahal
guitarist Fareed Haque came out at the mid-way point to join the trio on
stage, which added to the mix and gave the music, which was missing
"something," exactly what it needed.
Throughout the rest of the night, various musicians jammed on stage. John
Scofield came down to play, as did Uri Caine from the Philadelphia
Experiment and Kenny Wollenson on drums and Tony Scherr on upright bass,
both from Sex Mob. Later on, Steve Bernstein came out to join his fellow
Sex Mob band mates for a high energy jam. Members from Project Logic were
there. Eric Levy from Garaj Mahal was there. It was just short of a
free-for-all, which seems to be the only way Ropeadope knows how to throw a
party, and New York City is better off because of it.
It's difficult to summarize a night such as this. There were moments that
were not great, but that's expected with 100% improvisational music. After
all, if I wanted note-perfect safe music, I wouldn't be there on this night.
But at the same time, every once in a while, you get that "moment" where
everyone on stage is locked in and on the same page, what is being created
is truly magical, and that is what music is all about, and that is what
this night was all about.