Grand Poobah’s 2022 Personal Picks
Updated: Feb 11, 2022
Are you excited for Iridium 2.0? I know I am! We have some great new upgrades and a brand new menu while retaining the same awesome vibe, incredible sound designed by none other than resident genius, Les Paul, world class artists and of course, plenty of curveballs, deep cuts and lots of surprises…Due to our intimacy and iconic status we can get artists who normally play larger rooms, up close and personal without having to be shills to the music industry- Here it’s all about the music; honoring our roots and pushing the music forward. After all, this is The House of Paul…Musical excellence is in our DNA. Each month, I’ll be writing these blogs as personal favorites and the reason why without having to “sell them”. I love to hear you’re your feedback so please let me know what you think!
While we aren’t announcing all of our show yet, below are some of my personal highlights. Please ask for me and I’ll buy you a drink and show you around as I’ll definitely be at these shows every night. Below are some insights on why…
February 26th - 27th: VICTOR WOOTEN, STEVE BAILEY, GREGG BISSONETTE present BASS EXTREMES
This will be an amazing show. We’ve had the bass virtuoso Victor Wooten here before but never in this all star configuration celebrating how bass can stand out as a lead instrument.
Victor Wooten, Steve Bailey and Gregg Bissonette front this band and demonstrate how the bass guitar can supply bass lines, piano and guitar-style comping figures, lead solos, and percussion parts, in styles ranging from bebop to new age to heavy metal. Each piece highlights different aspects of their amazing techniques -- like Steve's three-finger technique or his awe-inspiring command of harmonics and chord voicings, or Victor's incredible funk grooves, and thumb and two-handed tapping techniques.
Let’s face it, usually guitarists or lead singers receive all the recognition while the rhythm section goes relatively unnoticed. Of course, with an audience that holds groove to a more desirable degree than riffs, bassists find the spotlight within the jam band scene. What could be an ego-driven excursion equaling guitar wank is,
thankfully, an amazing show that displays the melodic possibilities of the often-unheralded instrument. The latest collaboration by bassists Victor Wooten, Steve Bailey and Gregg Bisonettecan be found in the form of Bass Extremes: Wooten is a known commodity for his work with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones as well as his solo releases; most recently Live in America. But, as the saying goes, they make beautiful music together. A strong fixture to make this a grand escapade of sound is drummer Dennis Chambers. His work contains its own inventive strengths while never outshining the proposed stars of the show.
Victor Wooten is a 5-time Grammy Award winner and a founding member of the supergroup Béla Fleck and the Flecktones. He has been called the most influential bassist of the last 2 decades and was listed as one of the Top Ten Bassists of All Time by Rolling Stone Magazine. Wooten was also the winner of Bass Player Magazine's reader poll 3 times and remains the only person to have won it more than once. Having released multiple solo recordings, he is also the author of the widely read novel The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music. Steve Bailey is a pioneer of the six string fretless bass whose techniques are studied around the world. Steve, an avid recording artist with two solo recordings under his belt, currently holds the position of Chair of the Bass Department at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. Bailey has played and recorded with Dizzy Gillespie, The Rippingtons, Jethro Tull, Paquito D’rivera, Larry Carlton, and Willie Nelson, to name just a few. Bass Player Magazine wrote: "Steve Bailey is to the 6 string fretless bass what Columbus is to America." Together, they formed Bass Extremes in 1992, releasing their self-titled debut which Subsequent DVD and CD releases followed as they toured the world performing clinics and concerts. They are also known and respected as the dynamic teaching duo who continue to teach together at events, colleges, and universities around the world. They were also instrumental in introducing the original "Bass Camp" idea when they ran their first Bass/Nature Camp in Tennessee in the year 2000 and Bass at the Beach in South Carolina a few years later- both intensive camps which attract students from all over the world. Gregg Bisonette is a Sabian artist and a member of Ringo Starr’s All Star Band. He has recorded extensively for TV, films and album projects in LA as well as giving Drum clinics all over the world. He returns for his second stint as the drummer for Bass Extremes.
March 12th-13th: CARL PALMER'S ELP LEGACY
Definitely one of my favorite drummers, Carl Palmer is a technical monster whose precision, showmanship and musicality are unmistakable and inimitable.
Carl Palmer burst onto the international scene in the late ’60s as a member of English proto-progressive rock bands Atomic Rooster and the Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. But his place in the drumming pantheon was secured in 1970, when he joined Keith Emerson and King Crimson guitarist, Greg Lake to form the 3-piece “symphonic rock” super group Emerson Lake and Palmer. Some 40 million albums later, ELP has remained widely respected for both its exceptional musicianship and dynamic showmanship. The early 80s saw Palmer achieving further success with the multi-platinum group Asia that continues to record and tour to this day.
ELP’s eponymous 1970 debut album matched pop-song melodies with classically inspired structures. Radio listeners were excited by songs like “Lucky Man,” while legions of budding prog-rock musicians were inspired by the instrumental precision of “Knife Edge” and Carl’s solo vehicle, “Tank.” The band’s combination of virtuosity and over-the-top theatricality gave the young, technically oriented drummer the opportunity to stand out both within the music and as one of the most entertaining drum soloists ever.
“ELP was basically an instrumental group doing adaptations of classical pieces, arranged for three people,” Carl told Modern Drummer. “I not only had to keep time, I had to play a lot of unison passages with the keyboards, to make it sound as fat as possible. We were a band, but a band in which I couldn’t really do anything but project as an individual.” The band went on to record several groundbreaking albums, including Tarkus and Brain Salad Surgery, before calling it quits in 1978.
In the early ’80s, Carl joined another supergroup, Asia, “We were a prog rock band that played pop tunes,” according to Palmer. “I was able to fulfill my dream of playing songs.
I caught this show last year at the club and not only did it channel the essence of ELP, but Palmer would often come out from behind the drums to speak directly to the audience and spin stories about the songs. For a full ten minutes Palmer simply blew away everyone away with a show of skill, stamina, trickery and sheer awesome power he can generate! Fans were screaming and clapping as they were feeding off of his energy and simply having a great time. The Chapman Stick wielded by Simon Fitzpatrick was mesmorizing. For those unfamiliar with the Chapman Stick, it usually has ten or twelve individually tuned strings and is used to play bass lines, melody lines, chords, or textures. Designed as a fully polyphonic chordal instrument, it can also cover several of these musical parts simultaneously. As a note Peter Gabriel’s bassist, Tony Levin often uses one and brings his awesome group “Stickmen” to Iridium this summer.
Btw, while Guitar Player Magazine called Iridium, “America’s best guitar club, while checking out Rolling Stones top 100, I was proud that we also might be one of the greatest drummer’s clubs as well. We’ve had 15 of them- For those keeping score, they include, Carl Palmer, Charlie Watts, Ginger Baker, Bill Bruford, Terry Bozzio, Bernard Purdie, Steve Gadd, Carmine Appice (who is playing with Cactus, March 14…), Steve Smith, Billy Cobham, Virgil Donati, Max Weinberg, Clive Bunker, Chad Smith- who looks a lot like Will Farrell, but plays better, Gary Husband, and I’m adding Max Roach and in my mind many others who were amazingly excluded from the list….)
March 18th-19th: KCL- WAYNE KRANTZ, KEITH CARLOCK, TIM LEFEBVRE
I’m always psyched for this band and think they are one of the coolest, tightest and most groovy trios out there. They always sell out so buy early.
KCL the iconic, genre-bending powerhouse trio led by visionary guitarist Wayne Krantz, bassist Tim Lefebvre (Tedeschi Trucks Band, David Bowie), and featuring drummer Keith Carlock (Steely Dan, Sting, John Mayer) is mind blowing. I first caught them at the 55 Bar downtown, where they held a Thursday-night residency throughout the first decade of the new millennium. Cutting live recordings from the club and posting them online in the early days of the internet and touring only sporadically, KCL developed a thoroughly original style of interactive group improvisation inspired in part by the great Miles Davis Quintet of the 60s, but played out in spontaneously generated contexts of heavy funk, rock and electronica instead of straight-ahead swing.
As other instrumental bands of the day dabbled in derivative fusion and retro-jazz, KCL became an underground phenomenon, cultivating an international following of devoted fans of every stripe looking for an alternative creative music that served the mind, body and spirit. Relentlessly grooving, always innovative, never complacent – KCL made contemporary music that resonated beyond category.
Other sideman obligations sidelined the band soon after their Abstract Logix release, “Krantz Carlock Lefebvre,” in 2010, but their reputation continued to expand globally through fan circulation of the band’s many live videos and recordings and you can only catch them here.
Feb. 20th-22nd: ANDREW CYRILLE BAND FEATURING BILL FRISELL & DAVID VIRELLES
This one will be quite a thrill for me- hearing the legendarily innovative Andrew Cyrille with special guest Bill Frisell. I consider Bill Frisell a “best of breed” musician, a certifiable guitar hero who can play anything and make it sound surprisingly fresh and just right! This is definitely a must see!
It would be tempting to say that, at 81, Andrew Cyrille has probably forgotten more than most drummers have ever learned about stretching tempo and creating space for improvisers to thrive in. Over six decades with stars from swing-sax pioneer Coleman Hawkins to Carla Bley and uncompromising piano virtuoso Cecil Taylor, Cyrille has learned all about jazz’s rich complexities – and then sought to distil them into ever simpler essentials in projects of his own. Cyrille’s hidden-hand presence is glimpsed in taps, ticks and quietly crisp cymbal grooves, hushed snare rolls and offbeat accents – and the whisper of brushes on a newspaper spread over the drumheads.
Eclectic and versatile, guitarist Bill Frisell always manages to sound distinctively himself while fitting into any playing situation. He has become one of the most influential guitarists of the modern era with a wide-open approach that reconciles the sound of rock and R&B guitar with the sophisticated harmonic style and methods of jazz.
With jazz guitarists like Wes Montgomery and Joe Pass aiming for a pure, clean sound, and rock and soul players competing in a world where distortion and sound manipulation are part of the package, it fell to up and coming guitarists like Frisell, Pat Metheny, and John Scofield to navigate a middle course. One of Frisell’s early influences in developing his style was Michael Gregory Jackson, a pioneer in the use of early guitar synthesizers, active in the avant-garde scenes in New York and Hartford, Connecticut during this period. Frisell once described his guitar style for Wire by saying “I suppose I play the kind of harmonic things Jim [Hall] would play but with a sound that comes from Jimi Hendrix.” His set-up usually includes various distortion pedals, delay lines, and a volume pedal.
His broad style, encompassing the blues, a little country twang, unexpected power chords, clouds of sound and an air of casual dissonance, with a sensitivity to context and collaborators, ensures that wherever he turns up, you’ll hear something that fits just right.
Bill Frisell with a bunch of unknowns (full concert!)