The first thing that catches your attention about Maaze is that they aren’t just another Grateful Dead cover band jamming the tunes Garcia, Lesh and Weir popularized so many moons ago. What Maaze does do – and does very well – is capture a 1960s vibe and thrust it squarely in the middle of a contemporary jam band setting.
Yes, there’s a little Dead thrown in here and there, but Maaze takes to another level, mixing a handful of originals with, for example, the funk-jazz tunes by the likes of keyboard-jazzer Herbie Hancock.
At Putnam Den, the band launched into Hancock’s “Chameleon,” which became a launching pad for special guest saxman Kenny Brooks to blow dynamic tenor lines clear past the ozone layer with the same vigor and passion that he exhibited during his tenure with Bob Weir’s Ratdog.
Bandleader Alex Mazur stoically manned the keyboards with continually rolling sparks of creative energy while trading and sharing vocal duties with the lovely Summer Corrie. Her impassioned delivery on many a song made the difference between copying and creating something new with a familiar cover tune. She was definitely a team player, but on some tunes she made them her very own.
Keeping the time in line and nailing the beats, a bearded Hektor Bee kept the cymbals and tom-toms rolling along with Lucas Ruedy’s rock-steady bass, pulsating with full-bodied tones. A more capable rhythm section to lay down the music’s foundation would be hard to find as Mazur, Brooks and guitarist Chuck Valentine used it to build solo after solo into the night. The crowd danced, cheered and watched while Maaze masterfully put one tune after another to bed.
Earlier in the evening opener Acoustic Circus got the ball bouncing around with lots of Dead covers. Dominated by energized saxophonist and EWI (electric wind instrument) pyrotechnician James G. Looby, the trio featured the vocal and guitar talents of Juan Calzada and the tasteful percussion of Corbin Daugherty.
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
NOTE: Maaze will be playing their annual Holiday Benefit show at 8pm on Saturday (December 17) at Valentine’s Music Hall in Albany. Admission a new toy, household item or cash donation, all of which will be donated directly to Trinity Alliance. Anyone attending the Ominous Seapods show upstairs will also be allowed free admission is Maaze’s show.