Jazz musicians play The Egg fairly often, so the venue couldn’t have been more perfect when JAZZ IS PHSH came to Albany on June 27. With jazz musicians Domi Degalle (keys) and Felix Pastorius (bass) joining jam scene musicians Alicia Aubin (trombone, Big Mean Sound Machine), Dave “The Truth” Grippo (saxophone, Grippo Funk Band) and Rob Compa (guitar, Dopapod), JAZZ IS PHSH founder and drummer Adam Chase welcomed the audience to a unique performance of Phish’s music. A few dozen fans danced throughout the show in the upper rows of the intimate Swyer Theater, while others sat and enjoyed what could pass for engaging lounge music passively enjoyed while sipping a glass of wine at a neighborhood bistro.
A jazzed out version of “46 Days” began a night-long version of ‘Name that Tune,’ but for Phish songs; it took a moment or two for even the most fervent fan to figure out where each jazz odyssey was about to venture. “Dog Log” featured solos from Grippo and Aubin, followed by Domi’s first moment in the spotlight of the evening, with a re-entry to the final segment of the song done in textbook fashion. A Wayne Shorter/Q-Tip mashup came next in the form of “Ya Mar/ManWomanBoogie,” with a funk form of the calypso beat underlying the musicians, allowing the audience to get lost in the jazz groove while picking out the elements of the Phish cover and Q-Tip original.
“Bathtub Gin” had Felix sitting statuesque on his stool and took a solo that had all but Chase standing and watching, while Domi was steady and academic on “Gin,” one of the most popular tunes of the night, and easiest to identify. After, Chase informed the crowd that they would be playing a song that half the band had never heard, but fans would know off the iconic drumbeat, and with that, “The Wedge (Variations)” began, and the free flowing jam grew from Chase’s drumbeat. You have to think Trey Anastasio, let alone the rest of Phish, would love this band, watching their jazz-influenced compositions get reconstructed by jam and jazz musicians.
“Peaches en Regalia” was as tight as a jazz band could be playing Zappa, with Grippo performing double duty on clarinet and saxophone. Compa shined on “The Moma Dance,” a funky “Cars Trucks Buses” and “Stash,” which wrapped up the set with the audience clapping along to and introducing another element of Phish to the jazz musicians tonight – the fans are part of the show too. A “Camel Walk” encore, called out by Felix, was straight forward with jazz and funk and left the audience buzzing about a return performance down the road.
Setlist: 46 Days, Dog Log, Ya Mar/ManWomanBoogie, Bathtub Gin, The Wedge (variations), Peaches En Regalia, The Moma Dance, Cars Trucks Buses, Stash
Encore: Camel Walk^