The word “band” can mean a lot of things, from a longstanding group of cats, to a core whose surrounding players often change to the kind of spontaneous gatherings and jams that we get with the amazing freewheeling contemporary blues-jazz-funk-psychedelia crew led by guitarist Joe Marcinek.
By design, Marcinek (who also plays guitars and keys in the Indiana based jazz fusion quartet Fresh Hops) is all about creating an experience with a different lineup of musicians. Uniquely, most of the lineups of stellar sidemen (all of whom have played with legendary artists) only happen one time, so each show of a tour is a true event. Over the last decade, several of these ensembles were captured to create an evolving discography that brings us to the JMB’s latest collection, a studio session simply titled 5.
The guitarist’s original idea was to record a live album at the Dunedin Brewery in Florida using all new material. The gigs went well but Marcinek realized that the B-3 was making odd noises, which made the recordings unusable. We can be grateful for the so called plan B, which found him recording these spirited, infectiously melodic and always grooving and improvisational tunes as a trio with special guests at Tiny Room Studios in LA.
As drummer Pete Koopmans keeps the funk hoppin’, the adventurous magic of 5 comes from Marcinek’s robust interactions with Robert Walter’s Hammond Organ. Special guests include pianist Greg Spero, percussionist Jason Hann and the individual horns and section (most prominent on the boisterous New Orleans flavored romp “Lagniappe”) of Alex Wasily (trombone), Sean Erick (trumpet) and Jordan Donald (sax).
Thematically, canines rule the vibe, with three of the eight pieces featuring the word “dog” in the title.
The trio is all bark and lots of bite on the mid-tempo blues/funky opener “Dog” (which is the first showcase for the wild synergy between Marcinek and Walter), the expansive, multi-movement and ultimately wailing “Bulldog” and the rambunctious traditional horn blasted blues romp “Doggone Blues Again.” Other gems on the session – whose lineup, if Marcinek is true to form, will be only a one time affair – include the snappy rock-edged strut of “Cool Down” and the percussive and bustling, slightly exotic closer “Bella.”