Jane’s Addiction drummer leads dream team cast of music veterans including Mike Watt and Nels Cline in Experimental beat-worshiping new album – Rikksrevues
If rock stars were superheroes Banyan’s ferocious new full length, Live at Perkins Palace (out October 12 on Sanctuary Records), would be the stuff of comic book collecting fantasies. Over the course of their previous two full-length albums (1997’s Banyan, and 1999’s Anytime At All), Jane’s Addiction’s resident skin pounding guru, Stephen Perkins, lead a rotating cast of a veritable who’s who in California’s collaboration happy music scene. Banyan seemed to consist of everybody from eccentric beat junkies like Money Mark and the Dust Brothers, to Chili Peppers’ Flea and John Frusciante, to critically acclaimed Lou Reed collaborating bassist Rob Wasserman.
For Live at Perkins Palace, though, Perkins wanted to try and capture the very essence of Banyan‘s ambitious live experience. In doing so, he trimmed the group’s far-reaching lineup down to its four core members. This time around Banyan consists of former Minute Men bassist and low-frequency iconoclast, Mike Watt handling bass duties, Wilco‘s current ghost-birthing guitarist, Nels Cline, one-time Death Row Records session musician, Willie Waldman on trumpet, and, of course, Jane’s Addiction’s tribal rhythm provider, Stephen Perkins, holding it all together on the kit.
The results are equal parts breathtaking and booty shaking. For a group named after an Indian fig tree whose roots can encompass over an acre of land. Live At Perkins Palace is remarkably free of the indulgences that have claimed many a side project casualty. This is definitely virtuosic stuff, but Banyan seek to move your body just as much as your mind. Perkins attacks the kit like he studied under modern beat-scientists like DJ Shadow and RJD2 just as much as jazz pioneers like Art Blakey, and Mike Watt‘s pugnacious bass lines still resonate with the same tongue and cheek flair that he has built a career on. Furthermore, Nels Cline‘s reedy guitar abstractions frolic like kindergarteners at recess with Waldman‘s frenetic trumpet stabs making sure that the high end of the mix is cooked to perfections. And it all sounds so easy.
Banyan will be bringing this incarnation of itself to a city near you in support of Live At Perkins Palace. Playing with the band for these dates will be abstract trapezoidal-painer, Norton Wisdom, live on stage. Yes, they’re playing with a painter. ‘Nuff said.
Put together Stephen Perkins (Jane’s Addiction), Mike Watt (Minute Men), Nels Cline (who hasn’t he played guitar for), and Willie Waldman (former session trumpeter for Death Row Records), and you’ve got one hell of an outfit. This is a Jam Band spectacular mixing progressive Jazz with a Heavy Metal attitude seems to work. The third CD from Banyan (Live At Perkins’ Palace) is the best work to date, really showing what they have and putting it all on the musical table for all to enjoy.
If you’re looking for normal Jazz, or even Miles Davis soundalikes, that not what Banyan is all about. Banyan have arrived at a musical plateau that while not perfect by any means, is the closest they have come yet. This is a Fusion outfit that offers up a new and unique perspective of the Jazz movement. The CD is one of the better instrumental CDs I have heard in quite some time, the reason is simple, the energy and excitement flows through each track with a vulnerable unpredictability.
If you want true Hard rockin’ music, leave this one on the shelf, it won’t suit your tastes at all. However on the flip side if you are a music lover and want to really get a taste of something unique, as well as very good, this may be something that will perk up your ears from the mundane everyday music into an almost new musical consciousness. The guitar work of Nels Cline is truly inspired on Live at Perkins’ Palace, and Waldman‘s horn work absolutely shines.
I was trying to think of a standout track or two, the truth is, it’s all good. It seems more like Banyan have tried to put together a CD that really should be listened to from beginning to end, non-stop. Enjoy the trip my friend, this doesn’t come along every day. Banyan have a way of working the listener into a sheer frenzy, and they don’t let up. This is what Jazz from a hard rockin’ perspective is supposed to sound like.