uKanDanZ was great; More Music to Come

I’m about to discuss the concert that I saw last night and the music coming up later this week, but first I wanted to share with the world some very important new about cuisine here in the city of Cincinnati: Shanghai Mama’s, my favorite restaurant in the city for the food and the atmosphere, is back in action. After a fire at the end of last year Shanghai Mama’s predicted that they would reopen months ago, but the opening kept getting delayed. And although they’ve been open several weeks now I be there are still lotsa folks out there who haven’t heard yet that they’re back in operation. (And a reminder: on Fridays and Saturdays they’re open until three AM.)

From there I visited Another Part of the Forest, a fabulous record store located at 1333 Main Street, which means it’s just a few doors down from MOTR Pub, where uKanDanZ performed. uKanDanZ consists of four instrumentalists (drums, guitar, sax, and a keyboardist who plays bass lines with his left hand) from France and a singer, Asnake Guebreyes, from Ethiopa. They played some of the mostjagged, knotty, dissonant and danceable music I’ve ever heard. The sound mix was great, the performance was fantastic, and the vibe was as well. Here’s a song I videotaped of the event:

During uKanDanz’s encore I happened to be down in the basement watching Aroldis Chapman throw his final pitch of the night, an event culminating in the seventh victory in a row for the Cincinnati Reds. That string of success confirms one thing I’ve long suspected: Joey Votto is the Achilles heel of the team. I mean I know he’s got some talent, but the fact that they’re doing so much better without him leads me to suspect that maybe he needs to go back to the minors for a while and refine his skills. Couldn’t he like hit .500 or something? Our big mistake was trading Jonny Gomes, who was just starting to dial in what pitches to swing at when we let him go.

After the uKanDanZ show I chatted with some of the band members, including the drummer, Guilhem Meier. I actually videotaped our conversation, but I’m not yet convinced that it is youtbueworthy due to the fact that I quickly got in over my head (that’s another way of saying I sounded dumb). Walking over to him, I demanded that he list every single that he used that night; I told him I didn’t want him to leave any of them out. (A confession: I’ve never had much of a talent for doing the math of complex rhythms; I probably did a better job of it when, as a sixth grader, I played violin for the Perkins Elementary School Orchestra in Des Moines, Iowa; I wonder if they’s still in existence.) But it wasn’t simply a matter of listing off rhythms, I came to learn. It was rhythms within rhythms and against rhythms and so forth and so on. Two minutes into our conversation he was starting to explain the cross-patterns at the beginning of the second song. I felt like I was in calculus class. In any case, a great drummer.

Another confession: there are so many beers out there right now that their names seldom make that transition into long-term memory. So, I did something different last night: I took a picture of the beer tap so I could know what it was that I drank last night. I sampled a couple, and this was my choice: Black Diamond Jagged IPA. Great stuff, but I’ll warn you that if you continue to drink it through the night you may begin to feel inebriated; I came upon this knowledge scientifically. (Alcohol content: 7.30)

A reminder that a concert is taking place on Friday, July 27, with Lisa Biales, Ricky Nye, and others; it starts at eight. I also want to tell people about Carmon DeLeone’s New Studio Big Band show taking place at the Blue Wisp Sunday afternoon at three (that’s July 29).   Although I haven’t met Carmon in person yet (I will on Sunday), he helped me immeasurably with a very in-depth article that I wrote recently (in fact I just submitted it a few days ago) about David Matthews, a brilliant and highly successful pianist, arranger, writer, etc., who started attending CCM in 1960, played with Jimmy McGary in the late 1960s, and collaborated with James Brown for five years; that’s about 1% of Matthews’ musical bio. I emailed Carmon with some questions a few days ago, and that interview will appear in the Sunday edition of the Cincinnati Enquirer.


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