On Tuesday, Live for Live Music hosted the first-ever edition of The Funk Sessions, a new monthly residency based at Denver, CO’s Cervantes’ Other Side. The Funk Sessions features a rotating cast of players from across the funk and jam scenes playing in unique and creative lineups. Each month will center around a host artist and a hand-picked, curated lineup of colleagues, friends, and musicians they admire.
January’s edition of The Funk Sessions was hosted by Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff, guitarist for the iconic modern funk band, Lettuce. Staying true to the Denver music scene, he was joined by local heroes, keyboardist Joey Porter and bassist Garrett Sayers from The Motet. Fellow Lettuce member Eric “Benny” Bloom held it down on the trumpet, and high-energy drummer and sometimes-vocalist Isaac Teel from TAUK was behind the kit. Last night’s band was rounded out by special guest Casey Benjamin, saxophonist and vocalist from GRAMMY-winning Jazz/R&B fusion group the Robert Glasper Experiment.
The all-star cast of musicians opened the night up with Eddie Harris’ “It’s All Right Now”. Garrett Sayers and Isaac Teel locked into a tight groove pocket out of the gates, with Bloom laying down some explosive work on the trumpet. Up next was Herbie Hancock’s “Swamp Rat”, a perfect launchpad for Sayers to flex his chops on the bass. Casey Benjamin fired off some tasty licks on the saxophone as the sold-out crowd got the funk down alongside some of the live music scene’s most impressive musicians.
The five-piece band slowed the tempo down as they delivered a take on Miles Davis’ “Jean Pierre”, highlighted by some gritty Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff guitar licks. The Meters‘ “A Message From The Meters” came next, as Sayers continued to dazzle the crowd with some tenacious bass bombs. Next, the quintet kicked it up a notch with the second Eddie Harris tune of the evening, “Is It In”. Benjamin settled into a captivating solo on the sax before the band delivered their third and final Eddie Harris cover of the night with “Freedom Jazz Dance”.
The sold-out crowd’s energy was evident and infectious as the behemoths of funk moved forward with Zapp‘s “So Tuff” and “More Bounce To The Ounce”, giving Porter a chance to showcase his prodigious talkbox abilities. From there, they dove into the most unexpected tune of the night with Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”, which saw Teel add some soulful R&B vocal flourishes from behind the drum kit. The tune off of West’s 2007 release, Graduation, got some special improvisational treatment before the quintet brought their set to a close with Michael Jackson’s “Workin’ Day and Night”.
However, the dance party didn’t stop with the end of the Funk Sessions set. As the show wound down, the Tivoli Club Brass Band kept the fun(k) going, with a second-line parade through the crowd and up to the stage for a bonus mini-set, leaving those who were lucky enough to be in attendance with a lot to digest.
The Funk Sessions – 1/29/2019
[Video: Live For Live Music]
Following January’s sold-out, high-energy first edition of The Funk Sessions, the February lineup for Live For Live Music‘s monthly residency at Denver’s Cervantes’ Other Side was announced today. Set to take place on Tuesday, February 26th, the latest lineup will see Turkuaz singer Shira Elias host her own hand-picked and curated group of talent from across the jam and funk scenes.
Joining the sensational vocalist will be drummer Jeremy Salken (Big Gigantic), keyboardist Borahm Lee(Break Science/Pretty Lights Live Band), guitarist DJ Williams (Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe/Shots Fired), bassist Dan Africano (John Brown’s Body), and trumpet player Parris Fleming (The Motet). Expect some deep funk, soul, and jazz grooves from this incredible formation of talent when they perform together as one unit for the first time ever at the February edition of the exciting new residency.
Tickets for February’s show are on sale now via Ticketfly.
Setlist: L4LM Presents: The Funk Sessions | Cervantes’ Other Side | Denver, CO | 1/29/19
Set: It’s All Right Now (Eddie Harris), Swamp Rat (Herbie Hancock), Jean Pierre (Miles Davis), A Message From The Meters (The Meters), Is It In (Eddie Harris), Freedom Jazz Dance (Eddie Harris), So Ruff, So Tuff/More Bounce To The Ounce (Zapp), Flashing Lights (Kanye West), Workin’ Day and Night (Michael Jackson)