When the hardest-working guitar player in the jam scene announces a three-night, six-show run with some of the best musicians and special guests at one of New York’s oldest and best-known jazz clubs, you know you’re in for a funky week! The “house band” was an outfit formerly known as Chapter 2, made up of Chris Loftlin (Brian McKnight) on bass, Louis Cato (Jon Batiste’s Stay Human) on drums, Nigel Hall (Lettuce) on keys and vocals, and, of course, the ultra-talented host of the shows, Eric Krasno (Eric Krasno Band, Lettuce, Soulive) on guitar. Nigel mentioned at the start of each show, Krasno was the “curator” of bringing together this special group of musicians almost ten years ago, and they were “happy to be playing with their friends, for their friends.” And we were happy to have them playing for us all week!

Whenever you bring a supergroup of musicians together, particularly with a number of guest sit-ins, it can be interesting to see how they mesh together, what songs they might choose to cover, or how everyone will fit in. When Eric Krasno brings his friends together to play, he never feels the need to take the spotlight. He seems just as comfortable playing in the background as he does when it’s his time to shine. This week was no exception, as Krasno allowed the other musicians to really take the lead and stand out. But he can still shred, as he proved time and again this week.

From the first song of the late set on Monday night through the final song of the late set on Wednesday night, one thing that became abundantly clear is that Chris Loftlin is an absolute beast on the bass! Between his ability to get the audience involved by clapping, his dance moves, and his outrageous faces, Chris was certainly a standout performer of the week.  Nigel Hall claimed to be the “least talented musician on the stage” every night, but that could not have been further from the truth. Nigel is such a great keyboard player and has such a soulful voice that it almost feels like being in church every time you see him perform. And Louis Cato can hammer the drums with the best of them.


Monday night brought sit-ins from Cory Henry (Snarky Puppy) and Jon Batiste, bandmate of Louis Cato and frontman for Jon Batiste’s Stay Human. Cory joined Nigel on the keys for a song or two and was given some solo time to tickle the ivory and take over on vocals. When Jon Batiste jumped onstage to get on the keys, Cory moved to the center of the stage next to Nigel to play the harpejji (electric stringed instrument that bridges the gap in sound between the guitar, bass guitar, and piano). Cory Henry is super talented and can really crush on most instruments. The six-piece played a rocking cover of the Buddy Miles classic “Them Changes” that brought the house down. The crowd was moving and head-bopping in their seats the entire show. 

Tuesday night’s show drew a much larger crowd and had some great musicians in the audience as well as on the stage. Questlove was the announced special guest for the night, so the audience was ready for a night of killer drum playing. The show opened with some of the same songs from the prior night, but they had a different feel to them—tonight was Kraz’s night! He was wailing on his guitar from the opening chords, and he never let up. Cory Henry joined the band on stage once again in a funky cover of The Beatles’ “Get Back.” Then Questlove was called to the stage, along with Maurice “MoBetta” Brown on the trumpet and Cochemea Gastelum (Dap Kings) on the saxophone. The band launched into the soulful funky Isley Brothers tune “Layaway”, and Nigel’s vocals stood out during this funky tribute. The night ended with Nigel letting us know that he is a “firm believer that if everyone got up in the morning and listened to one song, the world would be a better place.”

Wednesday saw the city get hit with the fourth nor’easter in as many weeks, but that didn’t slow down Eric Krasno and Friends. Robert Randolph was the billed special guest for the night, so anticipation was high. James Casey, saxophonist for Trey Anastasio Band, was called for a sit-in, as the band performed a song that had originally been written for Trombone Shorty. Nigel and crew were having fun telling stories and delighting the crowd with good ole funk. Robert Randolph had the crowd raging, as they performed covers of the Jimi Hendrix classic “Hey Joe” and the Grateful Dead ballad “Sugaree.” 

Krasno never disappoints, and this week proved that in spades. From his boys in Chapter 2 to the special guests that came out to play with them, it was an exceptional week of funk and jazz. Hopefully, this will become an annual tradition, and we hope to hear from Chapter 2 ten years down the line.