Hearing Aide: Electric Beethoven’s “Beathoven”

cover-reedmathis-beathoven_optReed Mathis has a lengthy resume as a bassist in the jam scene as a member of Tea Leaf Green, a touring member of Billy & the Kids and longtime part of Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey. Seems like he doesn’t take a break in his schedule.

Recently, while on the road, he decided to rearrange a few of classical composer Beethoven’s symphonies, “Symphony No.3” and “Symphony No. 6.” When finished, Mathis pieced together an incredible lineup of other musicians, and recorded them by traveling all over and record the music in its natural environment. Page McConnell and Mike Gordon, of Phish, Marco Benevento, Matt Chamberlain, Joe Russo, Robert Walter and Mike Dillon are some of the cast Mathis recruited for an album that really re-imagines Beethoven in a modern — and proggy, jammy — way.

“Awakening of Happiness,” featuring Russo and Luke Bolla, answers any question you’ll have about what the band sounds like, as the piano-heavy track melds rock and blues aspects, as well as a little psychedelia, with the noticeable Beethoven composition sound. Andrew Barr and Steve Pryor are featured on “Scene by the River,” before Galactic drummer Stanton Moore and Jared Tyler take over a danceable “Rain Dance.”

The appetizer of “Shepherd’s Dog” (McConnell and Jason Smart) pairs perfectly with the main course, “In Memory of a Great Man” (Gordon and Russo.) The sometimes jazzy, sometimes trippy “Funeral March” (Benevento and Chamberlain) make up a powerful middle of the order combination, which stands out as the most interesting interpretation on the recording.

“Rebirth,” featuring the Barr Brothers, and “Finale” (Moore and Walter) close the album with two numbers filled with jazzy guitar lines, intricate piano parts and a dash of some down south funk.

If you didn’t know who Beethoven was or were unfamiliar with his catalog, you wouldn’t mind in any way. Mathis manages to turn music you focus on into music you boogie to, without losing even a shred of integrity from the original compositions. If this album is any indication, this band is going to see its moment in the sun on the festival circuit in the next few years.

The band performed last week at the Catskill Chill, and are currently out playing a string of dates in support of the new album.

Beathoven tracklist

1. Awakening of Happiness (feat. Joe Russo & Luke Bolla)
2. Scene by the River (feat. Andrew Barr & Steve Pryor)
3. Rain Dance (feat. Stanton Moore & Jared Tyler)
4. Thunderstorm (feat. Matt Chamberlain & Mike Dillon)
5. Shepherd’s Song (feat. Page McConnell & Jason Smart)
6. In Memory of a Great Man (feat. Mike Gordon & Joe Russo)
7. Funeral March (feat. Marco Benevento & Matt Chamberlain)
8. Rebirth (feat. Brad Barr & Andrew Barr)
9. Finale (feat. Stanton Moore & Robert Walter)

Key Tracks: Rain Dance, In Memory of a Great Man, Funeral March