June 19, 2005
"There's something going on here, but you don't know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?"--Bob Dylan, "Ballad of a Thin Man."
Red Shift may not turn out to be the new guard, but they are the new Jazz sound. Most bands that are labeled Rock or Jazz or Fusion are labeled such because they have direct links to either genre in their music and because they sound like Rock, Jazz, or Fusion which has come before them. Local quartet Red Shift is more subtle than most bands, and they don't quite sound like anybody else. With their groove-oriented style, they tie together Rock, Jazz, Pop, and Latin styles seamlessly. Still, their bio does list Rock before Jazz, so that should tell you something about the music's direction.
Red Shift is drummer Quin Kirchner, six-string electric bassist Matthew Golimbisky, vibraphonist Matthew McClimon, and guitarist/bandleader Tom Sandohl. They started playing in 2003 at Cafe Brasil and The Funky Butt.
So, why can't what Red Shift does be described as Rock and let it be? They use jazz-oriented meters, and the proficiency of each player also lends the well-executed songs into the Jazz idiom. Also, there's not a lot of vibes in Rock. Red Shift never rocked a straight beat long enough that they sounded like purely Rock. Of course, Kirchner's loud freakouts and generous use of cymbals, along with Sandohl's feedback and effects-drenched guitar, made me think of Rock often, but they FELT more Pop. Pop Jazz/Rock. When the bass matched the melodic progression of the vibes, there was a security in the music. There's always a degree of apprehension when going to a jazz concert--like, "How difficult is this gonna be?" Of course, the challenge of the music and the amount of focus that's sometimes needed while listening to Jazz is the fun of it when you get it, when you can let go and roll with it. That apprehension disappeared when the Golombisky and McClimon started moving in exactly the same directions. Also, it didn't hurt that the melody itself was catchy, and in effect, pleasing.
The band wasn't just some hard rockin' Jazz thing. They also played beautiful, trippy ballads. They knew when to lay off and let the drums and vibes battle and create off each other. I saw intense concentration in the eys of the players as they tried to figure out the patterns of the other.
Too bad there were only about ten people in The Dragon's Den. Then again, it was super hot in there. Gotta get that AC fixed.