LIVE: Sex Mob’s 25TH anniversary wsg Matt Munisteri @ the Falcon, Marlboro, 08/01/2021
Performing the songs of others as standard repertoire is done in all genres of music. But the performance of songs from multiple genres in one night is the specialty of only one small ensemble that I know of, the alt jazz quartet Sex Mob.
Under the leadership of slide trumpeter and arranger Steve Bernstein, this pianoless quartet covered Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Coldplay, Nino Rota, and the Rolling Stones classic “Ruby Tuesday”. No, these were not straight covers, the rhythms and riffs were like riding a rollercoaster. Melodic lines were like the mirror images in a funhouse, distorting in strange yet amusing ways.
The band has now been together for 25 years, giving its members and leader a musical playground where they can play together with each other without adult supervision. Steve alternated between his slide trumpet gliding, bursting into shortstops/starts, and coaching the band like a conductor. At one point, he had the audience singing along “Pap Pap” in counterpoint to the band.
Ken Wollesen propelled the band into parts unknown with his predictable yet unpredictable drum work. There is a lot of syncopation of NOLA in his work.
Bassist Tony Scherr anchored the swirling sound with gusto and had space to solo on bass, he gave us a reason not to talk during his solo.
Briggan Krauss is the counterpoint in the two-man horn section, alternating between melody and outside playing.
Old-style hollow body electric guitarist Matt Munisteri sat in on a few tunes connecting futuristic to the traditional with his fretwork. After all, Steve has collaborated extensively in the past with the late NOLA pianist Henry Butler.
For those who think jazz is too serious a form of music should witness a performance of Sex Mob. If that doesn’t change their mind nothing will.