Captain Green and his/their/its invading navy/army was just about finished plundering Florida. They played a number of venues around the state, pairing up with some of the very best funky jazz bands (jazzy funk bands?) in Florida. They played with Displace in Gainesville, Serotonic in Tampa, and Holey Miss Moley in Orlando at a crammed-in-like-sardines Red Lion Pub. They had one more date before heading home to Baton Rouge for a CD release party with Naughty Professor, making that officially one of the sickest pairings imaginable.
The Ringside Café in St. Petersburg was the venue for another collaboration with Holey Miss Moley. This promised to be a vastly different experience than their show at the Brass Mug squash court and ear torture emporium. I was excited to get to see them a second time… and hear them for real for the first.
I was not disappointed.
Holey Miss Moley had a fun night getting a second helping of Captain Green themselves. After a nice ballad-y intro with “Swedish Prison” (what?), they launched right into “Naugatuck,” the horn ‘section’ of ubiquitous Christian Ryan augmented by Cameron Willinger on trumpet. Mama Bone from Green Sunshine would grace the stage soon after.
After the Meters’ “Just Kissed My Baby,” vocalist and front man Danny Clemmons was introducing the band; he pointed at Ryan and said, “And ‘Stache back there on saxophone. Christian Ryan. His middle name is ‘Awesome Sauce.’ You can ask Scott Hopkins.” ROFLMAO.
A Meters-inspired original, “Doo Rag,” was followed by more Meters: “People Say,” seguing into the longest version I’ve heard of their great tune “Ja Jam.” Jacob Cox was flame-throwing from his guitar! Mama Bone and her trombone were sounding great. HMM kept up the New Orleans/Louisiana vibe with “Fire On the Bayou” and “There’s Something Wrong with This Picture.” Ryan was continuing to test out his recently acquired tenor sax (he usually plays alto, baritone and flute).
Brad Elliot from CopE was holding down the drum chair, an excellent fill-in choice. Tony Morales is almost ready to get back behind the traps after a wrist injury. It was great to see him if not hear him. You could see Kenny Harvey’s smile from the back of the room. (OK, you can always see his smile from the back of the room. It’s infectious!) The Rev. D was all over his mix of keyboards all night; this music demands piano and organ and a just a touch of… mojo synthesizer.
Dave Schwartz grabbed his harp and jumped on stage for a traditional reading of “House of the Rising Sun” (well, Animals-traditional!), a nice, different dimension. HMM closed with a three-horn attack on “Devil Funk” (“uh huh!”) and “Sho’ Nuff.”
After a blessedly short set break, it was again Captain Green’s turn to rip our heads off with their swampy Louisiana funky jazz. And that’s exactly what they did. The sextet blasted off with “Tar Balls,” sending everyone into deep, deep funk territory. “Chicken & Waffles,” from the band’s previous CD, Everywhere Is Where It’s At, was even spacier.
At the heart of Captain Green’s sound you will find Ross Hoppe’s keyboards. His brilliant work on synthesizer in particular and also organ, clavinet and piano is the first floor on which their house of funk and jazz is built. Of course, the basement is rock solid, with Robert Kling on bass and Mike Harris on drums. It was truly enjoyable actually hearing Kling this time and not just a rumble, and Harris is a certified wild man, or certifiable, or possibly both.
I had a thought while listening that they remind me of a mini-Snarky Puppy, given the intricate song structures and amazing ensemble sound, especially David Melançon on trumpet and Darin Jones on reeds (alto, tenor and bari). Their unison horn work is simply magnificent.
They revealed a new tune of Melançon’s titled “Snaffe.” The very best part was that I could hear Grant Hudson perfectly when he soloed – I could barely make out anything he did at the squash court, which was not his fault. He took a number of great funky, chunky solos, often with very effective wah-wah. Then there was a great section with just the trio of bass, drums and electric piano. Awesome!
The title track from the new CD, Protect Each Other Together, featured a long organ intro and baritone sax. At the conclusion, Hoppe said, “If you guys want to know what we’re getting high on, it’s that Goddamn funk!” HEY! US TOO!
“Christmas Tree,” from Everywhere…, highlighted Melançon’s beautiful muted trumpet, Jones on tenor, a deep synthesizer solo, and Jones again on a wonderful straight-ahead tenor passage. They closed with Captain Green’s magnum opus from the new CD, a tune simply titled “Death to the Fascist Insect Which Bleeds the Life From the People.” There are so many changes in this song you’d need a program. Everybody got a feature slot.
For their encore, Captain Green offered up a tune I’d describe as funk to the power of funk (well, I do teach math, after all). It was a fabulous way to end their Florida romp.
Great to see Jon and Andrew from Serotonic in the house!
[HMM: Swedish Prison, Naugatuck, Just Kissed My Baby, Doo Rag, People Say > Ja Jam, Fire On the Bayou, Superstition, Scallyway, There’s Something Wrong with This Picture, Let’s Get It On (hip-hop style), The Hand-Clapping Song, House of the Rising Sun, Devid Funk, Sho’ Nuff]
[CAPTAIN GREEN: Tar Balls, Chicken & Waffles, Snaffe, Protect Each Other Together, Christmas Tree, Death to the Fascist Insect Which Bleeds the Life From the People; E: Funky ??]