Simon Lott and Brian Coogan
June 24, 2005
BY NERISSA COHEN
It was hot in the Den Friday night because the A/C is apparently down for the count, but it wouldn't have made a difference, anyway. The heat generated by drummer Simon Lott would have jumped up the temp in that room no matter how well the air worked.
Following what seems to be a newly established tradition at DD(courtesy of sax player extraordinaire Eric Traub), Lott lost his shirt early into the first set. Who could possibly blame him? The man was on fire! His smokey and subdued playing always had a feeling of tension holding back a wall of fury. His sensitivity to keyboard master Brian Coogan's beautifully melodic playing was bang on.
I don't tend to think of drums as "duet" material, but Lott managed to imply solid counterpoint and at times harmonic near-melodies that were unexpected and captivating. When it was his turn to set the pace, well - there tweren't nothin' subtle 'bout it! The belly dancer standing next to me said it best and spoke for all of us when she began to uvulate at the height of one extended solo.
Coogan manages to surprise me practically every time I hear him. He can and does cover every conceivable ilk out there, and then some. The audience was treated to some of his own compositions, which confirmed that the funky-groovy thing wasn't his only bag. His feel for melody, for a Windham-Hill type earthiness, for finding the path to a dream-like transcendental place, caught me off guard. It's not what I anticipated from this consumate New Orleans groove-meister. Even though Coogan was in a markedly subdued mood during the break this night, he held nothing back when the pace took off. The fullness of his playing always has a few tourists popping in from the balcony asking, "Who's playing bass?." He covers the ground of what sounds like 3 or 4 other players--not just in volume, but via ever increasing layers of texture, pulse and expanding chord progressions.
These two guys had a room full of really sweaty people(notably many of them drummers!)entranced, attentive and thoroughly impressed. Without question a combo to keep an ear on.