Live Concert Photography: New York Electric Piano at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 3 1/29/18
Currently featuring founding members Pat Daughtery (piano, Fender Rhodes), Aaron Commes (drums), who’s best known for his work with the Grammy Award winning and Billboard Chart topping act Spin Doctors, and Richard Hammond (bass), who’s spent time in the pit band for the Broadway musical Hamilton, the jazz trio New York Electric Piano, initially formed in 2003 with Daughtery, Commes and Tim Givens (bass) — although interestingly, the band can trace its origins back to when its founding members met while playing in a number of local bands in the early 90s.
Their eponymous 2004 debut effort was critically applauded and was a commercial success, as it cracked the Top 20 of the CMJ Jazz Charts. 2005’s Citizen Zen and 2006’s Blues in Full Moon were also released to critical praise. And adding to a growing profile, the band began a long residency at the Cutting Room, which featured their tradition of inviting dancers on stage with them. 2008 began a series of lineup changes with the band expanding into a sextet with the addition of Deanna Kirk (vocals), Till Behler (sax) and Leon Gruenbaum (keys), best known as a member of Vernon Reid’s backing band. And as a sextet, they released the critically applauded King Mystery, which found the members of the then-sextet expanding upon their sound and approach with material that effortlessly shifted between dance rock, jazz and wild freak outs.
2010, saw yet another lineup change, with the addition of Teddy Kumpel (guitar), known as a member of Joe Jackson’s backing band and Erik Lawrence (sax), known as a member of the legendary Levon Helm‘s backing band. And as a nonet, New York Electric Piano began a long and very successful run at Zinc Bar, which they followed with arguably their most commercially successful effort to date, 2011’s double album Keys to the City, which spent a month in the Top 10 of CMJ’s Jazz Charts and received critical praise from the likes of PopMatters, Sea of Tranquility, Jazz Times, Drumhead and All About Jazz among others.
And although the band received quite a bit of commercial and critical success as a large ensemble, they reverted back to the original format, a trio rooted around the imitable sound of the Fender Rhodes electric piano, recruiting Hammond, with whom they released Black Hole In One, an album which featured alternating instrumental compositions and vocal tracks. Unexpectedly, for the members of New York Electric Piano, the album received international attention, thanks in part to album single “Party On.” As the story goes, “Party On” was pushed by an Australian DJ, and eventually the New Zealand National Rugby Team, the All Blacks adopted the song as their theme song during their Rugby World Cup Championship run. Along with that, Lollapalooza artist Norton Wisdom did a live action painting to the song, and the video and song became the subject of a climate change conference at Penn State University. Adding to the unexpected attention on the album, album single “Who Wants to Know” features a verse about Crazy Horse. One of his descendants heard the song and sent it to family members, who were protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline — with the song becoming something of a rallying cry.
Recently, the members of the band have been playing monthly gigs at Rockwood Music Hall, and their extended, free-flowing jams were met with such tremendous audience approval that Aaron Comess immediately suggesting that they needed to try to capture the energy and vibe of their Rockwood shows on their newest album — State of the Art, which was released last month through Fervor Records. Now, as you may recall, album single “Road to Joy” was a fitting taste of the album, as it was a loose and free-flowing jam that featured the trio’s uncanny simpatico, beginning with some stuttering discordance before quickly turning into a 70s jazz fusion meets prog rock-like groove.
Last month, the members of New York Electric Piano celebrated the release of their latest album with a live set at Rockwood Music Hall’s intimate stage 3, which focused on the material of their latest album, which featured some tight grooves, some ironic lyrics focusing on commercialism and greed and some exceptional musicianship. Check out photos from the set below.
For these photos and more, check out the Flickr set here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmdB72mo