I knew Jason Linder was a great keyboard player (he also currently plays with Meshell Ndegeocello, who sat in on the first set) but tonight was the first I saw him with his own band Now vs Now (featuring the tasteful & frenetic Mark Giuliana on drums and the solid Panagiotis Andreou on bass). They recorded their CD at EastSide Sound so I was familiar with the name of the project but not with the material. Needless to say the musicians are great at what they do. Giuliana’s playing (solos, minimal, intense, fractured or around the beat but always in the groove) is soulful and articulated, continuously and reliably supported and accented by Andreou’s deep groovy lines (who also did some middle eastern singing). The backdrop of sounds, patterns, melodies, harmonies and obviously solos is of course all in the hands of Mr. Lindner, who comps nicely on his wurli and plays funky pockets and spacey leads on his other two brightly lit keyboards (often at the same time, as one would expect). Also joining them tonight is Bebe Israel, a talented young word-crafter who spits at double digits speeds or can sit back and improvise rhymes on the spot just just about anything (from newly elected Obama to the birthday girls celebrating at the Zinc bar) and who likes to remind everyone he’s a survivor because skills survive trends that’s why he won’t expire. His beat-boxing in the second set (the one I saw) was pretty sick too, I must say.
Although their blend of acid jazz, world music, chill out lounge, progressive stuff possibly might not be as accessible for non-musicians, for those who can appreciate this was one of those inspiring feel-good nights on the town with lots of musical cats and familiar places in the crowd and good music to take with you into the dawn of a new day.