LIVE: TriBeCaStan @ Proctors, 12/4/15

December 10th, 2015, 4:00 pm by Greg
John Kruth, Clair Daley, Kenny Margolis and Chris Morrow

John Kruth, Claire Daly, Kenny Margolis and Chris Morrow

Review by Susan Brink
Photographs by Rudy Lu

“Roll up for the magical mystery tour, step right this way…”

The line was snaking through Proctors’ lobby and out into the main hallway on a Friday night that was capping a bleak week due to the news of the day. I will say right here, that I have seen TriBeCaStan quite a few times. Locally, they gigged at The Linda last year, and this fall the Sanctuary for Independent Media brought them in for a party in Troy’s Freedom Square. So I knew what to expect and was sure that I was too numb and wouldn’t be drawn in. Oh me of little faith…

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The evening started with Philip Morris, CEO of Proctors, explaining that after 16 years of working with Jeff Greene, whose company EverGreene Architectural Arts did the restoration work in the main theater, he learned that Mr. Greene had an extensive collection of global, tribal instruments – some quite rare – and that he was co-founder of a band. This band.

And then in a glory of color and a mash-up of design, they took the stage. Band co-founder, multi-instrumentalist and main composer, John Kruth (who is also a music educator, author and head bozo on this magic bus) was followed by the beautiful, bad-ass, bari saxophonist Claire Daly, the irrepressible ‘bone player Chris Morrow, samurai sharp clarinetist Premik Russell Tubbs, punk zen bassist Ray Peterson, cool cat Kenny Margolis on keyboards, the afore mentioned Jeff Greene, killer percussionist Boris Kinsberg and drummer Kirk Driscoll, keeping it groovin’.

The New York Times has described them as “genre-bending jazz and world-music,” and they are. They are also serious fun. This is music-making at its highest level. These cats have played with some of the best – covering many genres – Ornette Coleman, Violent Femmes, David Amram, James Brown, Taj Mahal, Willy DeVille, Eddie Harris and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. They roll it up with so many cross cultural references, unexpected, dazzling instrumentation and high jinx that you can’t resist diving in yourself – which is a good thing, as this band demands participation. Morrow seemed to channel Harpo Marx, wandering into the audience, inviting us to play his trombone and finally flopping into an empty seat in the theater and playing from the back of the house. The audience was dancing in their seats, doing the hand jive and singing along when Kruth wanted to channel a bit of Pete Seeger’s spirit. And sing we did.

The band laughs a lot and lets you in on the joke – it’s an inclusive caravan of cool. They started off with a tune dedicated to the late, multi-instrumentalist Yusef Lateef and kept up the energy with the New Orleans flavored “Louie’s Luau,” the lilting “Jovanka” and from their latest release, Goddess Polka Dottess, “Repo Rodeo”, while I alone kept up my joyless, grey funk. But then Daly went into “ A Crack in the Clouds” from their album New Deli – a more meditative, Beatlesque groove, and I felt the color seeping back into my soul.

Most of their set was composed by Kruth, with the exception of the hauntingly lovely chant “Bwiti” (co-composed with Greene) and the Don Cherry tunes “Mopti” (played with tribal chinese wind and string instruments) and “Guinea” (played with a Swedish nyckelharpa). Before closing with “Axe,” Kruth called Premik over to center stage, where they talked about John Coltrane’s chanting of a phrase and asked us to join in. And we did – “May there be peace and love and perfection throughout all creation.” As the notes faded and the band left the stage, there wasn’t a need for an encore.

GO HERE to see more of Rudy Lu’s photographs of the concert…

John Kruth and Kirk Driscoll

John Kruth and Kirk Driscoll

Jeff Greene and Boris Kinsberg

Jeff Greene and Boris Kinsberg

Boris Kinsberg, John Kruth and Kirk Driscoll

Boris Kinsberg, John Kruth and Kirk Driscoll

Jeff Greene

Jeff Greene

Kenny Margolis, John Kruth and Premik Russell Tubbs

Kenny Margolis, John Kruth and Premik Russell Tubbs