The softly-lit room that is Red Square was to be host to this evening’s gala – a performance by The Chronicles, paying tribute to John Coltrane’s musical catalog. The soundboard was filled with guys laughing and chatting witty banter before the show, only to find out these fellows were the opening act, Mr. Breakdown. The five piece band toyed with various jams before stunning the crowd with a cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U”. Mike Kemmlein , the lead guitarist, played this song masterfully, from his extreme vocal range to his darting guitar, it was performed brilliantly and livened up the set.
This stellar opening performance set the stage for The Chronicles to pay tribute to jazz legend John Coltrane. The room was illuminated with blue lights, giving the ambiance of a Harlem jazz club in the 40’s or 50’s. As the band took the stage, the room was quite open, but as the music progressed the floor filled up. The opening number was “Naima”, a beautiful song highlighting the keyboards of Paul Phillipone with a hum of Jeff Naina’s saxophone and Bryan Brundige’s trombone sending out a melodic spring-like vibe; this was great way to start the set. “A Love Supreme” featured Brundige on talkbox, odd to see at first but as the jam went, it was a perfect selection. “I Love you to Death” was repeated as a back drop while the horns and the keys soared, accompanied with free form guitar by Justin Henricks that fit in superbly with intense passion. “India Locomotion” was a danceable track highlighting the speed Nania and Henricks making a bowlful of sound.
“Annie”, a song by Erykah Badhu, was a fun number grabbing the crowds full attention with the lyrics “Annie don’t wear no panties.” “Interzone” began with a gripping sax solo with a low touch of Daniel Lawson’s bass and Andrae Surgick lightly tapping his high hat as he he sat behind the kit. With each measure the groove of the sax sped up and the rest of the band followed suit. Henricks played very familiar guitar riffs right back into the sax, showing off the all the band members talent of how well they can play individually and as a complete unit. “The Groove for Nala” was very heavy on the drum and bass, a groove that only a jive turkey wouldn’t be able to get down to.
The Chronicles were able to put a spin on classic Coltrane making it relevant to the vibe of today, a very difficult task. They will continue there residency at Red Square this Thursday, highlighting the music of Earth, Wind and Fire, with opening act Cedric Burnside, a classic night and one that should not be missed.
Mr. Breakdown Setlist: Funk Train, It’s Your Thing, Hot Pants Breakdown*, Do What You Can, Top, Hard at Work, Zoomin, Nothing Compares To You, Take Your Shirt Off, Shining Star, Sista
*Greyboy Allstars version
The Chronicles Setlist: Naima, A Love Supreme, Syeeda’s Song Flute, India, Locomotion, Annie, Interzone, Sly, Groove for Nola, Butterfly, Just Knew
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