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Sex Mob Meets Medeski: Live in Willisau

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Sean Westergaard
After about a decade of issuing recordings, Sex Mob finally released an album in their natural element: live. The albums are great, no doubt about that, but anyone who has seen Sex Mob in action knows that's where they really thrive. It's also a nice contrast since the studio albums all employ at least a bit of studio production tricks courtesy of Scotty Hard but that can't be done for a real live album. So here they are in Switzerland, at the Willisau Jazz Festival in 2006 with old friend John Medeski sitting in on keyboards. It's a shame the visual element is missing because leader Steven Bernstein conducts this band with a mixture of hand gestures, eye contact, and ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Sean Westergaard
After about a decade of issuing recordings, Sex Mob finally released an album in their natural element: live. The albums are great, no doubt about that, but anyone who has seen Sex Mob in action knows that's where they really thrive. It's also a nice contrast since the studio albums all employ at least a bit of studio production tricks courtesy of Scotty Hard but that can't be done for a real live album. So here they are in Switzerland, at the Willisau Jazz Festival in 2006 with old friend John Medeski sitting in on keyboards. It's a shame the visual element is missing because leader Steven Bernstein conducts this band with a mixture of hand gestures, eye contact, and telepathy, and shapes the music as they go. In much the same way as John Zorn conducts the Masada Strings or Bar Kokhba, Bernstein is in control of dynamics, tempo, and arrangements so the same tune can sound completely different depending on how it's conducted. While you can't see how the band is run, you can hear that these guys are all clearly on the same page. The program is performed as three suites of music, and aside from the breaks between suites, you'd be hard pressed to tell where one tune ends and the next begins. The transitions are more than seamless, they're practically imperceptible. And that's not necessarily easy when moving from the traditional "Liza Jane" to "Sign O the Times" to the old chestnut "Down on the Farm," or from Basie to free improv to Prince. The first suite stars slow, feeling its way until Medeski joins a couple minutes into Ellington's "Black and Tan Fantasy" and on through the rousing "Down on the Farm," where Medeski turns in some nice organ work. The second suite starts off much more moody and mysterious with some great playing from Briggan Krauss, then slides gently into the easygoing "Blue and Sentimental" before the presumably conducted improv of "Kenny Supreme." "Darling Nikki" closes this suite on a high note, alternating between driving swing and completely going off the tracks. "Odd Job" gives that classic James Bond sound while "You Only Live Twice" is another highlight with some soulful Hammond courtesy of Medeski and some deranged trumpet from Bernstein. The suite closes with a couple short Bernstein originals. These guys are fun, they're not afraid to take chances, and they can swing like crazy. There's no substitute for actually seeing the band live, but Live in Willisau gives us a good aural glimpse of what they can do in that setting.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/21/2009
  • Label: Thirsty Ear
  • UPC: 700435718920
  • Catalog Number: 57189
  • Sales rank: 113,284

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Sexmob Primary Artist
John Medeski Organ
Tony Scherr Bass, Group Member
Briggan Krauss Alto Saxophone, Group Member
Kenny Wollesen Percussion, Drums, Group Member
Steven Bernstein Slide Trumpet
Technical Credits
Leonard Bernstein Composer
Prince Composer
Count Basie Composer
Duke Ellington Composer
Scott Krauss Composer
Tony Scherr Composer
Kenny Wollesen Composer
Sexmob Composer
Traditional Composer
Niklaus Troxler Producer, Audio Production
Lewis Composer
Young Composer
Barry Composer
Donaldson Composer
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