Sunday night was filled with nothing but surprises. Everything was so pleasantly unexpected and it made seeing the James Brown Dance Party a true spectacle to behold. The supergroup absolutely rocked the Fairfield Connecticut venue and the few people there were all equally blown away by the talent of everyone on stage. It’s hard to understand why more people didn’t show. Perhaps it was a Sunday night party, or high ticket prices, but hopefully this review will convince James Brown fans to make time to see these guys where ever and whenever they go.
Supergroups have the potential to yield some impressive pieces of music with names like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Cream, Bad Company and others making a pretty big name for themselves. The James Brown Dance Party has that same potential, if they were to ever go on and create some original tracks. There was such a strong sense of camaraderie between the musicians mainly among the horn line, which is the exact recipe needed to create some true works of art.
The classic King of Soul covers they played were executed perfectly. They pretty much played each cover verbatim but they really began to shine when they broke off to solos and started to have some fun. Again, the energy of the group was radiating from the horn line with guitarist Matthew Chase (The Chase Brothers) bassist Chris Sherman (Bootsy Collins) and drummer Adam Chase (Jazz is PHISH) lying dormant throughout the performance, as well as lead singer Elise Testone (American Idol). Trombonist Adam Dotson (Rubble Bucket), Trumpeter Carter Yasutake (LCD Soundsystem), and saxophonist Morgan Price (Charles Bradley) were the focus of the show from the get go when they played an instrumental version of “People Get Up” and “Drive Your Funky Soul.” Everyone in the horn line seemed to give it their all while most of them were already profusely sweating and blowing their horns all up and down the scales during their solo time. It seemed like there was a bit of friendly competition between the trio brassmen, and it helped them push their skills just a bit further, as they were each representing their own band. Of course, there was never any signs of hatred towards one another, but it was pretty obvious they were trying to one-up the person that soloed before them.
They played two sets that lasted a little almost two hours playing the tracks, “Get Up Off of That Thing,” “Get On Up,” “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” and so many more. Each one was unique thanks to the horn line while still holding the sound of the original song outside of the solos. They were all just as tight, funky and energetic as the original group and aside from Testone, the group all together sounded eerily close to the original recordings the covered. Their second set consisted of “The Boss,” “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World,” and “Cold Sweat” and others to cap off the night with the audience going wild after every song.
This will not be last time the group will be in the Connecticut and New York area, but odds are the line-up will be completely rearranged, making each performance unique. Check out their website and Facebook page for information on shows and line-ups.