Alive at Five returns for it's 30th season presented by KeyBank! On July 18th Alive at Five is excited to welcome Lettuce with JAW GEMS presented by Leaf Filter and WEXT Radio!!
Lettuce is (a) the prime ingredient in a salad, (b) a slang for cash, (c) a green herb, (d) a genre-busting six-member funk/jazz/soul/jam/psychedelic/hip-hop/art-rock/ambient/ avant-garde/experimental collective formed in 1992 by four alumni of the prestigious Berklee College Of Music, or (e) all of the above.
If you answered "e," then you're on to the ever-changing musical palette and all-inclusive goals of LETTUCE's sixth studio album, Elevate, and its ongoing re-interpretation of the band's name as "Let Us." In their earliest days as students, they would roam the cities of the Northeast, and implore others to "Let Us play." Starting with their 2002 debut album, the phrase has been affixed to their first four albums, as in (Let Us) Outta Here (2002), (Let Us) Rage! (2008), (Let Us) Fly! (2012) and (Let Us) Crush (2015). Elevate (2019) is the band's first studio album since 2016's Mt. Crushmore and the follow-up to its 2017 live effort, Witches Stew.
Recorded at Colorado Sound outside of Denver, near the home of New York transplants and band co-founders, guitarist Adam "Shmeeans" Smirnoff and percussionist Adam Deitch, with legendary engineer Russ Elevado (D'Angelo, The Roots, Erykah Badu), Elevate shows LETTUCE touching on its past while moving full force into the future. The band explores its funk roots in the Tower of Power like punch of "Ready to Live" (the cover of a song by Cold Blood's Lydia Pense), the Prince-like swagger of "Royal Highness" and the OG blues-soul of "Love Is Too Strong," while expanded trip-hop sounds of the space age audio-scapes like "Trapezoid," "Gang 10" and "Purple Cabbage" show the influence of sax player Ryan Zoidis' Korg X-911 synths and Nigel Hall's Rhodes keyboards.
Other album highlights include Smirnoff's nod to Carlos Santana and Trey Anastasio on the Latin-flavored and playfully named "Shmink Dabby," the spaghetti western meets '60s Ethiopian funk by way of the French Ethiopiques compilation albums in the focus track, "Krewe" and the Marcus King cameo vocal on the B.B. King/Al Green gospel blues of "Love Is Too Strong." The latter is reminiscent of other guest appearances in the past by the likes of John Scofield and Fred Wesley on LETTUCE's debut, Outta Here, or Dwele on Rage!
That magic continues to grow with the band's new album, a democratic ensemble in which there is no leader, but a complete unit that functions as a single entity, with plenty of moving parts.
All together now... Let us Elevate.
JAW GEMS, an electronic outfit from Portland, Maine, is a collective of experimental producers bringing beat-music – traditionally programmed and played on samplers – to a live band setting.
Combine legendary beat-makers like Tokimonsta, Flying Lotus, and Dilla, with the deep gritty grooves of Thundercat, and Toro y Moi's chillwave synth-pop, and you begin to approach the sound Jaw Gems creates. Since their start in 2009, the band has been exploring sonic and rhythmic ideas that emphasize interlaced melodies and hard-hitting slaps. The result is a harmonic workout for both the subconscious and neck.
Electronic producer, Daedelus, says "Jaw Gems have done the magic trick of delivering thoroughly listenable instrumental [albums] that you can also sing along to." Outfitted with vintage, analog synthesizers sampled through a modern Roland sp404, a live drummer, and an electric bassist, Jaw Gems' employ a variety of beat-repeating, sample-warping technology to design a sound which is commonly made by a solo artist.
It's this unique technique that caught the attention of acclaimed producer Daddy Kev, founder of Alpha Pup Records — home to many of the aforementioned artists. "I fell in love with Jaw Gems the first time I saw them perform," says Kev. "I think they're a perfect fit for the Alpha Pup label."
Jaw Gems will unleash a sonic spark in the shadows with the release their fourth album, Dim Kingdom, on Alpha Pup this March — Following up their recent works Heatweaver and Heatweaver Remixes with a big, expanding sound, and an intimate, calming intensity. Inspired by the band's mood regarding the current state of America during recording time, Dim Kingdom represents a shifting stance for the group.
Two years spent touring has also affected Jaw Gems' musical style with optimism and a powerful lucidity, as they saw their performance environment change drastically from intimate settings to much bigger venues, including Red Rocks Amphitheater.
In addition to national tours and landing their dream record deal, other recent Jaw Gems' highlights include shared stages with icons such as My Morning Jacket, Flying Lotus at L.A.'s legendary Low End Theory (FlyLo's first appearance at the famed L.A. beat scene event in years), Pharoahe Monch, and many more.
Tips in the beer garden for this show will benefit the South End Children's Cafe!
Stay tuned to see what else Alive at Five has in store for you this summer! More information can be found at AlbanyEvents.org