Concert Review: Troker @ The Local, Saugerties, 11/12/2023

Hailing from Guadalajara, Mexico, Troker is an instrumental band that defies strict categorization with their unique style of music, often described as Mexican psychedelic jazz. Featuring the classic trumpet/saxophone front line common in jazz groups and a keyboard/bass rhythm section, the band sets itself apart by incorporating turntablist DJ Sonicko to create soundscapes and effects otherwise impossible to achieve.

Photo by Rudy Lu

Their music, almost cinematic in nature, paints a soundscape that invites the audience in, weaving musical journeys characterized by multiple genres. Riffs reminiscent of Seattle grunge, played by horns, evolve into ballads. Stanley Clarke-esque bass lines engage in call-and-response with the sax or trumpet. The band also showcases dueling trumpet and sax, trumpet and bass, or all three in unison, typical of a fusion band. Samo Gonzalez often channels Stanley Clarke’s influence, while Frankie Mares’s frenetic drumming drives the music, providing a throbbing, rock-steady beat. Adding to the excitement, Steve Bernstein made an unannounced guest appearance with his slide trumpet.

Bernstein, known for bringing unorthodoxy and fun wherever he plays, elevated the fun element from 11 to 12. His entrance was greeted with hugs and grins. He was a familiar figure to the band, having been a guest artist on their debut album.

Photo by Rudy Lu

Despite these varied influences, an underlying theme of mariachi music, native to Mexico, remains evident. Although the band has performed in 19 different countries, their focus is clearly on their domestic market, with most detailed information about their activities available in Spanish. The band actively participates in social and educational programs in and around Guadalajara and Mexico, performing free concerts in underprivileged areas to promote jazz within the country.

This performance was part of a two-week whirlwind tour of the U.S. Hopefully, they will return to tour the U.S. again soon and possibly play a show nearby.

Band Members:

  • Christian Jiminez: Keys
  • DJ Sonicko: Turntablist
  • Samo Gonzalez: Bass
  • Frankie Mares: Drums
  • Daniel Benitez: Saxophone
  • Cristian Garcia: Trumpet
  • Steve Bernstein (Guest Artist): Slide Trumpet

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