On Saturday, Live For Live Music‘s brand-new multi-band concert event, The Big Melt, took over The Fillmore in Denver, CO for an action-packed night of scorching guitar solos, soul-lathered vocal harmonies, eclectic jazz grooves and so much more.
The musical marathon kicked off with a massive edition of J.E.D.I. [Jazz Electronic Dance Improvised] featuring renowned mandolinist Michael Kang and percussionist Jason Hann of The String Cheese Incident, bassist Ashish Vyas of Thievery Corporation, and keyboardist Borahm Lee of Break Science and Pretty Lights Live Band, led by drummer Aaron Johnston of Brazilian Girls.
J.E.D.I. got the party started with “Mr. Sneaky“, the project’s second single released via Eddie Roberts new record label and multi-media platform, Color Red. With Johnston, Hann, and Vyas holding down the rhythm section, Lee got down to business with some trancey synth grooves. J.E.D.I. moved forward with some Massive Attack samples that made their way into a full-throttle improv jam, followed by a Fela Kuti track. Kang stepped up front and center next to take the vocal lead on Peter Tosh‘s “Legalize It”. From there, Denver-based vocalist Megan Letts joined the band for a take on Hall & Oates‘ “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)”, adding a layer of soul to the snappy cover.
J.E.D.I. impressively works through originals and a diverse array of covers, and the band offered up their full platter on Saturday. The band moved forward with DJ Shadow‘s “Nobody Steam”, which can be heard on his Live In Manchester album, before diving into a beautiful set-closing cover of The Verve‘s 1997 hit “Bitter Sweet Symphony”. You can watch a full video of the set below
Aaron Johnston’s J.E.D.I. – The Big Melt – Full Video
Up next was Dominic Lalli’s Bluebird Quintet, who mounted their second-ever performance following a high-profile, sold-out debut at Denver’s Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox. In addition to Dominic Lalli (Big Gigantic), the band features Borahm Lee (Break Science, Pretty Lights Live Band) on keys, Gabe Mervine (formerly of The Motet) on trumpet, Hunter Roberts on bass, and Dru Heller filling the drum chair. The jazz-centric set saw the band work through four improv-heavy numbers in “Emerald Isles”, “A Blind Mans Blue”, “Bluebird”, and “Perk”. Dominic Lalli put on a spectacle, ripping through intricate saxophone solos alongside his seasoned bandmates. Watch the full video of the set below:
Dominic Lalli’s Bluebird Quintet – The Big Melt – Full Video
Setlist: Dominic Lalli’s Bluebird Jazz Quintet | The Fillmore | Denver, CO | 4/13/2019
Set: Emerald Isles, A Blind Mans Blue, Bluebird, Perk
Following a brief break for fans to rehydrate and take a stretch break, Eric Krasno & Friends took the stage for their star-studded performance. Kraso’s band lineup at The Big Melt featured frequent collaborator and Lettuce keyboardist/vocalist Nigel Hall as well as Robert “Sput” Searight (Ghost-Note, Snarky Puppy, Herbie Hancock, Kendrick Lamar) and MonoNeon (Prince, Ghost-Note), in addition to special guests Robert Randolph on pedal steel, Casey Benjamin (Robert Glasper Experiment) on sax, and Will Trask on percussion.
The supergroup opened up their set with “76” and “Be Alright”, two tracks off of Krasno’s 2010 debut solo album, Reminisce. Krasno and Randolph took found each other in the sweet spot in no time as they fired back and forth a series of electrifying solos, with Benjamin sprinkling in an added layer of his silky-smooth saxophone work. The band moved forward with a take on Randolph’s “I Need More Love”, allowing MonoNeon—clad in his signature neon getup—a chance to drop some sticky bass bombs.
Krasno’s longtime Lettuce cohort Nigel Hall then got his chance to shine as he led the ensemble through his own “Don’t Change”, highlighted by the tenacious interplay between Krasno and Randolph. Eric Krasno & Friends continued to work through choice covers including Herbie Hancock‘s “Gentle Thoughts”, Michael Jackson‘s “Don’t Stop Til’ You Get Enough” and “Rock With You”, followed by a colossal, Soulive-style set-closing take on The Beatles‘ “Get Back”. Watch the full set below:
Eric Krasno & Friends – The Big Melt – Full Video
Setlist: Eric Krasno & Friends | The Fillmore | Denver, CO | 4/13/2019
Set: 76, Be Alright, I Need More Love, Cocoa Butter, Don’t Change, Gentle Thought, Mr. Clean, Don’t Stop Til’ You Get Enough, Rock With You, Get Back
By the time the fourth and final act of the evening, Purple Party: A Tribute To Prince, hit the stage, The Fillmore was packed to the brim. Fans buzzed with anticipation for the tribute project’s debut performance in The Centennial State. Headed up by Colorado favorite and Magic Beans keyboardist Casey Russell, this edition of the Purple Party once again featured MonoNeon on bass and Sput on drums. Searight’s partner in crime and fellow Ghost-Note member, percussionist Nate Werth (Snarky Puppy), also joined the fray, in addition to local heroes Joey Porter, Ryan Jalbert, Lyle Divinsky, Drew Sayers, and Parris Fleming of The Motet. The talented squad was rounded out by percussionist Will Trask (Great American Taxi) as well as vocalists Adryon de León (Orgone, Matador! Soul Sounds), Megan Letts (Mama Magnolia), Corey Frye (The Main Squeeze) and Ziek McCarter (Con Brio).
The massive ensemble worked through Prince’s vast catalog in grandiose fashion beginning with a set-opening rendition of “D.M.S.R.” With Russell and Porter rocking it behind a massive stack of keys, organs, and synths, the band worked through horn-heavy takes on fan-favorites like “Kiss”, “Just As Long As We’re Together”, “Baby I’m A Star”, and “Sexy Dancer”. Jason Hann joined the party for the next two songs, “Erotic City” and “Head”, with Trask also adding extra percussion to the former. The band continued to deliver heavy-hitters with “Call My Name”, “Soft and Wet”, and “I Wanna Be Your Lover”, highlighted by some exquisite vocal work from the expansive cast of singers onstage. The Purple Party continued with “Musicology”, “I Feel For You”, and “Uptown” before a take on one of Prince’s all-time fan-favorites, “1999”, closed out the night with a roar. Watch the full set video below:
Purple Party: A Tribute To Prince – The Big Melt – Full Video
Setlist: The Purple Party | The Fillmore | Denver, CO | 4/13/2019
Set: D.M.S.R., Partyup, Kiss, Just As Long As We’re Together, Baby I’m a Star, Sexy Dancer, Erotic City, Head, Call My Name, Soft and Wet, I Wanna Be Your Lover, Musicology, I Feel For You, Uptown, 1999