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Soulive with Joshua Redman, (Le) Poisson Rouge, NYC- 6/26

June 26th and 27th found Soulive at Manhattan’s (Le) Poisson Rouge as part of the JVC Jazz Festival. The new venue occupies the hallowed space that the Village Gate once called home, helping continue the still-thriving Greenwich Village jazz scene. The trio was accompanied by saxophone player Joshua Redman for the bulk of the two-night run and the four played off one another like old friends as they tore through one another’s material.

The show opened with Soulive onstage taking a pass at a few songs, including “Steppin” which heard guitarist Eric Krasno and keyboardist Neal Evans playing in harmony throughout the laidback funk tune. The tempo picked up when Redman joined for his own “Greasy G,” Krasno stepping back to watch saxophonist effortlessly belt out smooth, staccato notes during his solo. Redman felt like a fourth member of Soulive, his sax finding a perfect fit with drummer Alan Evans and Neal in helping create a groove for Krasno to solo over before swapping solos with the guitarist. The band was having as much fun as the crowd, as even Krasno stepped back and gave a “Whoo!” after a particularly tenacious solo followed Redman’s to finish out the hour long set with “One in 7.”

The second set again started with the trio on “Reverb,” where Krasno took the lead early, flying through his solos. Next on “Dig” Neal locked in with Alan and slowly his 90s synth sounds floated into Dr. Dre’s “Nuthin But A G Thang,” the band playing with the melody for a bit, interweaving it seamlessly with “Dig” as Alan’s hard-kick drum and splashy cymbal work joined the two tunes.

Redman hopped back onstage for the rest of the set beginning with the third song “Tuesday,” initially standing back and dancing, letting Krasno keep control in the second set.

Even as Redman screeched out notes, wrenching them from the bottom of his sax, they still came out hyper melodic over the funk foundation.

For an encore, Neal came out manhandled his tall keyboard setup to create a wall of sound as he, yanking his Hammond back and forth, and throwing his elbows across the ivories of the other keyboards. “Headin’ Home” closed out Soulive’s first of two nights, as the rest of the band, including Redman, slowly joined Neal and got the crowd up for the final funky tune.

The two shows weren’t the first time Soulive and Redman teamed up, as Krasno joined Redman on his 2005 release, Momentum, and hopefully it won’t be the last. With the departure of reggae singer Toussaint last year, and Soulive’s excitement to move their sound back to jazz rather than toward pop, hopefully more collaborations like this can happen in the future.

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