Back when tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse was changing the musical game and playing with greats like Thelonius Monk, he probably never thought of his legacy living on in the form of a music venue. But that would be a respectable salute to any iconic player and it’s even more so that it comes from Charlie’s own son. When it comes to the entertainment and music industry, Charles “Chico” Rouse Jr. has the most important skill one can possess: experience.
Besides coming from a well-known musical family that featured his father, he has 25 years of combined experience as a producer and promoter for artists such as the acclaimed blues guitarist and singer-songwriter B.B. King to the likes of rapper and actor 50 Cent. Chico has also committed himself to bettering his community by putting on local events in Asbury Park, Long Branch and Red Bank.
And while Chico and Maria Donofrio continue to concentrate on bringing the best jazz to Asbury Park, new operations manager Ed Maier is adding a new taste to the widening palette of Chico’s House Of Jazz. As part of Elmthree CC, Ed, along with his co-collaborator Christine Caruso and crew are dedicated to putting Chico’s at the head of a very competitive list of nightclubs in Asbury Park. How are they doing this? By adding some interesting (and overlooked) sounds by bands such as Devon Allman’s Honeytribe, Anders Osborne, The New Mastersounds and their latest show featuring Eric Lindell on Tuesday, May 17.
As Ed says, “Our motto is simple: Enhancing the live music experience for music lovers as well as musicians… strengthening the bond between the two.” Chico’s House Of Jazz has always been a great venue. Laid back and casually elegant, it’s a good time for locals, hardcore jazz fans or new comers curious to see what’s going on in a town filled with opportunity and choice.
So whether you’re looking for the old school blues of Billy Hector or you are into the eclectic sound of the Will Calhoun (Living Colour) Chico’s House Of Jazz is a good bet for all of your jazz, blues, funk and R&B needs. Come check it out on May 17 as Chico’s presents Eric Lindell, who is out in support of his newest disk, Cazadero. More info at chicoshouseofjazz.com.
Wakah Chan – Alive At The Saint
This next Shoreworld band doesn’t follow trends or tie-dyed t-shirt directions. They don’t head down the wide and weary pathway of conformity and they sure as hell don’t listen to any record company big wigs when it comes to laying down their own unique sounds. Wakah Chan is a psychotropic free-form funk/acid lounge jazz ensemble whose roots in sophisticated improvisational jam are flavored with classic feel-good soul, tribal, Latin, dub, middle-eastern and R&B.
Wakah Chan is based in Asbury Park but they call the whole Tri-State area their playground, performing at festivals, clubs and just about any venue that craves their colorful sounds including fundraisers and benefits for charities such as Relay For Life, Strangers Helping Strangers and the Monmouth County SPCA. With a constant impetus to uplift and play to the crowd, Wakah Chan continue to hone their fun and quirky sound while creating an interactive and positive energy exchange on the music scene and dance floors everywhere.
The band’s latest recording is titled Alive At The Saint and as you may have guessed, it is a completely live recording captured at Asbury Parks Numero-Uno of music, The Saint. The recording is made up of 10 free-styled movements and encompasses everything from the dark and ominous “Dark Eyed Gypsy” to the mysterious and psychedelic vibe of “Wakah Scat.”
If you dig experimental music this is the band for you. Largely mislabeled a “jam” band, Wakah Chan seems more at home in the improvised jazz genre than anything else. They may sound jammy at times, but it’s well thought out compositional movement that takes them through their sound odyssey. Neatly engineered by Jack “The Hinge” Pitzer, the disc bounces with smoky soul and funk panache. Other interesting cuts are the upbeat, 1940s snap of “Alley Cat Jazz,” featuring the horn action of Andy Demos and Matthew Van Houten, two guys that know how to blow without stepping on the rest of the action.
The Eastern influenced “Spinning Sound” does just that, starting softly and utilizing chunks of dynamic space, the melody is passed from vocal to horn to beyond as they gear up. The fact that this was all recorded live and is something you forget once you begin listening, as it is truly that accurate and moving. Another cool tune was “Right Meow,” a laid back Lou Reed meets Jack Kerouac-styled jazz composition, stoked with minors and tasteful wah-wah guitar chops. The horn work of Van Houten and Demos is never aimless or unmelodic in theme and they do a great job of leading this cool band deep into their self-built maze.
While Wakah Chan might not be for everybody, they probably don’t care. With their large and loyal following that digs their laid back approach to music, they’re going to continue to do very well. Yet another instrumental band that shows if the compositional skill is there, success can never be too far behind. Wakah Chan will be performing at Jamfest on May 27 in Middletown, NJ. For further information go to wakahchanmusic.com.
“Weird” Al Yankovic – Still white and nerdy
@ State Theatre, New Brunswick, May 19
That zany guy with the bad perm, big nose and geeky glasses is back and it ain’t Howard Stern! Concerts East, AEG Live and State Theatre present Grammy award- winner “Weird” Al Yankovic Live in concert tomorrow, Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 8 p.m. “Weird” Al will perform a mix of fan favorites as well as songs from his new album, Alpocalypse.
The long-awaited album releases on June 21 and includes “Perform this Way,” a parody of the Lady Gaga song “Born this Way.” Al’s live show is family friendly with lots of surprises, costume changes, and all the antics you would expect. Weird Al Yankovic, the undisputed king of pop culture parody, has sold more comedy recordings than any other artist in history. His satirical twist on songs like Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” (“Eat it”), Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” (“Amish Paradise”) and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (“Smells Like Nirvana”) have made him a household name. Some of Al’s other hits include “Gump,” “White and Nerdy,” “I’m Fat,” “I Lost on Jeopardy,” “Pretty Fly for a Rabbi,” “Like a Surgeon” and “Bedrock Anthem.”
In a 17-year career, chock full of notable hits, Bad Hair Day quickly became Al’s highest-charting, fastest-selling album. It spent a total of 56 weeks in Billboard’s Top 200, where it peaked at No. 14, and sold more than 1.7 million units. Weird Al has pretty much been going non-stop since he was discovered in a men’s restroom across from a radio station (that never happens to me) starting with his coverage of the Knack’s “My Sharona” as “My Bologna” and going strong ever since.
If you’ve never caught this guy live I recommend you do so. It’s part circus, part cult and completely Weird Al. For tickets or more information, call the State Theatre ticket office at 732-246-SHOW (7469), or visit them online at statetheatrenj.org.