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Showtime: 8:00PM
Doors Open at 6:00PM

$15.00 $25.00

[ Complete Show Schedule... ]
Aaron Comess 50th BDay Bash/‘Sculptures' Record Release ft Guests
Aaron Comess - Drums
Oli Rockberger - Piano
Keith Loftis - Saxophone
Teddy Kumpel - Guitar
Leon Gruenbaum - Samchillian

Special Guests:
Joan Osborne & James Maddock

Known for his identifiable, solid, anchoring beat with Spin Doctors, Joan Osborne, James Maddock, Rachael Yamagata and more, drummer Aaron Comess reaches a new level of sonic inspiration, beauty and creative abandon with Sculptures. Adding to his varied work with the Aaron Comess Trio, the Aaron Comess Quintet and the improvising collective the Air Conditioned Gypsies, Comess fronts a new and unique lineup for this recording, with the beguiling sound of Leon Gruenbaum’s innovative samchillian™MIDI controller in the foreground.

“The start of this music,” Comess recalls, “was Leon and I doing a series of short improvisations with Roman Klun engineering in our studio ‘his house-Innsbruck Studios’ in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I really love the sonic scope Leon gets on the samchillian™, which he invented himself. He really is the secret weapon of this record.” With its deconstructed computer-keyboard interface, the samchillian™ (full name: “samchillian tip tiptipcheepeeeee”) summons an airy sound and a skewed, subtly pervasive harmonic world. It can access pitches in spiraling technical patterns that would be otherwise unplayable. It can execute 40-note-per-octave microtonal scales, overtone scales, spontaneously generated tone rows and many other things of Gruenbaum’s devising. But underneath the sheer technological feat of it all, it’s the instrument’s depth of musicality and gorgeous evocative tone that comes across first and foremost.

Comess and Gruenbaum had worked together before in Pat Daugherty’s group New York Electric Piano as well as the Air Conditioned Gypsies. With Sculptures they begin a new collaborative chapter, evincing a deep and unpredictable chemistry. “The songs ‘Sculptures,’ ‘Dogs’ and ‘Wacky’ were products of our early improvised sessions,” Comess continues. With the addition of Grey McMurray on electric guitar, Oli Rockberger on Fender Rhodes and John Davis on bass, the project came into focus, and what Comess calls a “triangular” formal structure emerged.

It was the cover photograph of Sculptures, shot by Comess on the Canadian side of Lake Ontario, that took hold of his imagination as he began plotting out the album. “The image played a role in how I wanted the music to sound,” he says. “Based on the sculpture in that photo, I began to see the making of these songs as a kind of musical sculpture. The main goal was for everything to have a strong mood and color to it.”

Amid the enveloping sound of Gruenbaum’ssamchillian™, the other players all proved equally indispensable. “Grey’s guitar playing was so intuitive,” Comess remembers. “I didn’t have him hear anything before we hit ‘record,’ and in many cases the first thing he recorded was the one. I was blown away in particular by what he played on ‘Sculptures’ — the harmony moves around in odd places and he just opened his ears and moved with it effortlessly and added so much. After hearing that, I knew I wanted his contributions on the rest of the record.”

Comess and Rockberger played together for years with James Maddock, the gifted singer-songwriter who contributes guest wordless vocals on “The Pink Room.” “I’ve known Oli for about 10 years and he’s one of my favorite musicians. He has a gift for playing complicated things that sound simple and really connecting with the listener. When Oli told me he was going to be in town a few days I booked a session around him. [Bassist] John Davis plays in Jojo Mayer’s band Nerve; he and I had recently played together and hit it off really well, and I knew his sound and approach would be great for this music.”

Originally from Dallas, Texas, Comess is informed by a wide range of influences and playing experiences, not least his ongoing work as a founding member of the Grammy-nominated funk-rock band Spin Doctors, with a total of 10 million albums sold and over 1500 live shows under their belt with all four original members intact (in 2018 they mark their 30th year). Comess has also spent a decade-plus in the touring band of Joan Osborne, and in 2017 appeared on new releases by her, Rachael Yamagata, James Maddock, Willie Nile, Garland Jeffreys , Chris Bergson and German platinum-selling artist Marius Westerhagen to name a few . He has also worked with Bilal, Edie Brickell, Chris Whitley , Marc Cohen , Roswell Rudd, Ivan Neville, and a host of others.

Active as a leader since his 2006 debut Catskills Cry (featuring Bill Dillon and Tony Levin), Comess has released three albums with his most active group, the Aaron Comess Trio (Beautiful Mistake, Blues for Use, Live 2016), featuring Teddy Kumpel and Richard Hammond; and a self-titled 2016 outing with the straightahead jazz-oriented Aaron Comess Quintet adding Keith Loftis and Barney McAll to the mix. Praised by Modern Drummer for his “musical approach to the kit, powerful stick work, and strong songwriting sense,” Comess reaches new heights of invention on Sculptures.


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