After a year of planning, Steve Lukather and Bill Evans’ Toxic Monkey return to New York City at The Iridium for a six night run, from Tuesday December 4 through Sunday December 9 at 8:30pm. There will be an additional 10:30 pm showing Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
When you’ve played with the greatest musicians in the world, enough simply does not exist. Guitarist Steve Lukather, otherwise known as the founding member of TOTO, recorded on Michael Jackson’s’ Thriller, the best-selling album of all time. Saxophonist Bill Evans anchored himself performing with Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock. You can look up the rest of the laundry list; to play with one of these greats alone, would be a professional musicians wet-dream.
Buckle-in. This will be a no-holds-barred jazz, blues and vocals gig. “It is a lot of intense shedding, but there will be great music too,” said Evans. “We wanted to do this in a club that is conducive to what we’re going to do – and that is The Iridium. We’re gonna have some fun, blow the walls down and kick some serious ass.” After Evans heard the repertoire from Steve, he knew.
“When you have a group with Keith Carlock (Steely Dan/John Mayer) on drums, Will Lee (CBS Orchestra) on bass and Steve Weingart (Simon Phillips) on keyboards, that is one hell of a band,” said Evans. “We are going to get up there and start ripping, right from the beginning.” The all-Grammy Award-winning group will perform anything from Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck and Robin Trower to material from Steve’s Los Lobotomys and Evans’ Soul Bop. Toxic Monkey wrote ten beautiful songs as well, all of which will be jam-packed into the intimate space of The Iridium.
More jaw-dropping than their discographies and talent combined, Toxic Monkey went out of their way to make this run happen. They want this – just as much as you don’t want to miss it. Particularly, Evans holds Luke in high esteem, a feeling that extends outward amongst bandmates and friends.
Being a guitar fan, “I have certain guitar heros that I’ve always wanted to play with and listen to. Steve Lukather is at the top of that list,” said Evans. “I like the fact that he takes so many risks and comes from so many diverse musical backgrounds: rock, jazz – it doesn’t matter, he is ridiculous at all types of music.”
People are gonna get what they came for. That’s what it was like at The Blue Note, seven years ago. “Steve wears his emotions on his sleeve, as well as his guitar playing. He is not preconceived. He creates in the moment and just goes – trust me, I would hear if it was different,” affirmed Evans. Every night Lukather is creating something fresh, which makes Toxic Monkey worth it for Evans.
“There’s always something special about a first night. And a lot of times, the first can be one of the best, because the energy is so high. We will be plugging in to go,” said Evans. Many of these tunes will be played for the first time. After a night under their belts, Toxic Monkey will be ‘kicking-ass’ on Wednesday. By Thursday, there’s no telling what could and will happen.
The best part is that all dates are left open for things to bloom. When you play with this caliber of musicians, there is a certain sentimentality for the music. Spontaneity may include Steve calling out a half-time feel in A-Major, mid-set, and then shred a huge guitar solo. The goal is for Toxic Monkey to have fun, with the players they all want to play with.
Unplug. Turn off your cellphones. Laugh. Be there and be present for this magical six-night series. “When Steve gets up to the mic, he says anything; and I mean anything,” said Evans. Consider yourselves warned.