Ask anyone who has seen this outstanding Baton Rouge sextet, and you’ll get an earful. You will hear all about the band’s mix of “thrash funk, sci-fi noir, and intergalactic space-jazz.” That is why Captain Green was selected to host the Saturday evening Superjam at Reunion: Campout Concert Series at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park (August 21 & 22). Because they, the at-large artists, and likely many more will CRUSH IT in the Music Hall.
MusicFestNews ran a feature about Captain Green in March, which you can read here. The band’s new album, Protect Each Other Together, is a monster. The music moves from Lee Morgan Blue Note sounds to Miles Davis’ pre-Bitches Brew vibes with Frank Zappa sensibilities sprinkled liberally throughout. In fact, Zappa is quoted on the CD cover: “Music is the best.”
P.E.O.T. was recorded before excellent guitarist Grant Hudson joined the band; he is an outstanding addition to the band’s sound, chunky, funky and rocking. Several musicians who perform on the album are not part of the touring band, including Matthew Bizot, alto & soprano saxes, flute; David Polk, alto sax; and Dr. Charles Brooks, percussion. All contribute to this outstanding recording.
The album begins with a short piece of sounds and the word “peace” as “Mantra.” Just over a minute, it doesn’t prepare you for the fact that four of the five other tracks clock in at 12 minutes or more (and the other one is eight minutes). These are fully developed works, all written by keyboard master Ross Hoppe. The entire record centers around Hoppe’s incredible array of keyboards.
“Protect Each Other Together” begins the real album… with a funk attack. Organ, clavinet and horns rush at you. Darin Jones’s baritone sax is prominent, then alto sax, and then trumpeter Dave Melançon. The band has already dipped deep into the funk pocket. In the following keyboard interlude, Hoppe plays organ, but it is other-worldly. His explanation: “It’s a chorus effect combined with rotary.” [For reference, listen to Larry Young (Khalid Yasin) playing on John McLaughlin’s album Devotion (try “Siren”).]
Then there is a trade-off section: horns, clavinet, horns, electric piano, horns, organ. Melançon has a great solo, the horns pour back in, back to the head, trumpet again, organ. It is a glorious 15-minute warm-up.
The next two tracks are titled “1st Movement” and “2nd Movement.” You would swear that “1st Movement” sounds like Lee Morgan’s Rumproller or Sidewinder, except for the clavinet. Jones takes a great tenor solo, followed by trippy electric piano. Then the horns do battle with drummer Chris “Katt” Lee, whose presence throughout this recording is enormous. Bizet has a nice outing on soprano sax, and then the horns coming roaring back underneath, very much in the style of the Buddy Rich Big Band.
With no noticeable break, “2nd Movement” begins at a slower tempo with Melançon taking the lead. Then Hoppe’s trippy organ is back, flute from Bizet, and some very spacey trumpet, reminiscent of Filles de Kilimanjaro and In a Silent Way. The entire track evokes those references. Hoppe’s synthesizer work is more prominent here, and then the horns work underneath, Blue Note-style. There is a nice section with Hoppe and Bob Kling on bass. Kling and Lee provide the solid bottom for all of these proceedings. Then Lee and Hoppe’s synth trade back and forth, and the horns carry the tune out.
Unfolding next is a beautiful piece titled “Greenhouse Effect.” It again reminds you of an organ-driven Blue Note recording, with flute, sax and trumpet combining. There is a nice alto solo, then Hoppe on electric piano. The effect of electric piano and organ (overdubbed) is great, and the ensemble horns again nail it.
You have been set up. That was the calm before the storm.
And the storm hits, full force, in the form of “Death to the Fascist Insect Which Bleeds the Life of the People.” It is in your face, raucous keyboards, drums, and horns. There is a brief quiet, spacey moment, and then the attack renews with heavy electric piano and synthesizer. Jones’s baritone is back with organ, trumpet and synth, then an alto solo, followed by a blistering wah-wah keyboard romp on top of a syncopated beat. The space trumpet returns, synth, horns, drums, organ and drums. The the horns reintroduce that evil beginning of the song, and a warbly voice intones, “DIE, M.F.er, DIE!” Melançon provides the coda.
Jamming, electronic, jazzy, trippy, rocking, funky great music. That is Captain Green. When you see them host the Superjam, you will know!
See you at the park! In the meantime, take a listen!