The Kevin O'Day Group

The Dragon's Den

January 06, 2004

There is an incestuous relationship between New Orleans bands. A great example was The Kevin O'Day Group, which played Tuesday night at The Dragon's Den. Andrew Coogan of Jason Marsalis, Cassandra Faulconer of Eric Lindell, and Rebecca Barry of Bust! made up the first outfit O’Day had put his name on.

If you don’t recognize O’ Day’s name, it’s ok. You’ve probably seen him. I don’t know of any other local drummer who's been in more bands, and for good reason. He is the best drummer in New Orleans. He proved it to me with his group’s music, which was completely improvised.

On the two more avant garde numbers, pianist Coogan shone and O’Day showed his softer and more intelligent side. But O’Day was at his best when he was rippin’ things up with a funk/party beat, and he had a great accomplice in Faulconer’s wah-wah bass playing. You ever hear a beat that’s so primal it makes you wanna turn into an ape? Maybe not, but they were doin’ it, man. People were dancing, and things were so rolling that someone shouted a celebratory “Awwww!” as a song rested for two seconds. Along with the avant garde jazz and funk, O’Day offered up a dark and sexy piece. Also on the menu was a mid-tempo song that opened things up and allowed more room for embellishment and mini-solos.

O’Day began each song with a beat, built upon by either Faulconer or saxophonist Barry. More important than O’Day’s melodic base rhythms was his knowledge of musical progression, which allowed him to throw hooks for the other musicians to latch onto. O’Day was smart to have his set facing the other musicians for easier communication. Because of the small crowd and the improvisation, there was a journeyman/laid back feeling among the members. It looked like they were having a ball performing without a net. More importantly, it sounded great.

Here’s to drummers who kick it and know their shit.

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