|Slowly but surely building a hot head of steam is Brotherhood of Groove, a new groove collective fronted by enigmatic guitarist/songwriter Brandon Tarricone. Born in the swanky music hotbed of New Orleans, the BOG is borrowing sonic pulses from different genres and paying homage to hometown heroes as well. This past fall and early winter, Brandon and company holed up at Ultrasonic Studios in NOLA to rcapture their unique brand and avant-progressive groove on record; the product of these sessions is the firing Pocket Full Of Funk, an album of blossoming original compositions with help from some of the NOLA scene’s heavy hitters.In the beginning, the BOG rocked parties and small joints around their music-drunk hometown, Tarricone and drummer extraordinaire Dan Caro hoped to catch the ear of some heads eager to get down. Luminaries such as Michael Ray of the Kosmic Krewe, and John Ellis of Charlie Hunter’s band lent their virtuoso lungs to the recording, and often perform live with the band. This elevated level of musicianship laid the solid foundation for BOG to explore new musical boundaries, steeped in the tradition of fun and a looseness within the compositions and tightly wound around a commonality in understanding between sonic partnerships. The budding songwriting prowess of Tarricone shines in light of this unified theory.
Pocket Full of Funk opens with the title track, a syncopated, funky tune that sets the tone for the disc in its exploratory loose feel and deliberate and nasty backbeat. Brandon instantly establishes himself as the star and leader of the ensemble with powerful leads and a dirty wah rhythm line high in the mix. This is clearly his brainchild (the group went by Brandon Tarricone’s BOG early on) and he basks in the opportunity to strut. And strut he does, not only on the six string but in writing as well. The horn parts of these songs are carefully and meticulously charted, and executed. Case in point the second song “Degrees of Separation” which showcases the versatility of the band, with a smooth chill-out and tasty comp underneath Michael Ray’s sultry and inviting trumpet work.
“Jello” finds BOG somewhat plodding into Medeski, Martin and Wood territory, albeit with a heavy New Orleans vibe. The deliberate, staggering rhythm allows monster drummer Caro to take it out a bit, lending a freer landscape. There is a smooth ebb and flow between compositions that allows for a wide spectrum of styles to go somewhat unnoticed (unless you are writing a review) and BOG sews a diverse afghan on Pocket Full of Funk. “Kaia’s Waltz” continues that tradition with a gem of a composition, one of the bands oldest and most vibrant. Dynamic, lyrical drumming highlights Tarricone’s leslie treated fretwork and acoustic bassist Alan Broome‘s rigid bottom end. This tune exposes one of the disc’s few but bright glimpses of the “Trey Factor,” here Brandon’s guitar work pays the jam icon somewhat explicit homage over the bridge. The fantastically named “Society Folks” also bears the same factor, although Brandon works it out with his original songwriting , as well as the marvelous, eclectic team assembled to carry out these missions. “What Waz” is perhaps sonically the most interesting song on the album, an introspective, lengthy tune with extended animated solos that tastefully avoid typical jamband wanking. Each member of the band is given room to blast off on the album’s crown jewel.
For the snobby whining jazz cats that plague the NOLA scene, BOG included two quaint contemporary jazz tunes. These were the acoustic guitar ballad “Sunrise over Madrid” and the album closer “Integration,” an aptly titled song that expresses the diversity and fluidity of Brandon’s collection, and the only song that features the charming piano virtuoso of Micheal Pellera. Brandon and company’s jazz heritage is brought to the surface on these mellow, traditional records.
The Brotherhood of Groove is doubly lucky in terms of the cd packaging, as it boasts a fantastic cover painting of the group by the inimitable New Orleans artist Frenchy, who can be seen all over town painting groups as they get down. The essay in the booklet is penned by none other than John Sinclair, author/poet/philosopher/manager of the legendary Detroit political rock band MC5, who often drops in on BOG gigs to deliver a little spoken word madness. Sinclair penned the piece on a train to Paris from Amsterdam, reflecting on his Big Easy compadres.
Pocket Full of Funk is a grand introduction to the jamband massive, and establishes Brotherhood of Groove as troubadours in the fickle, critical, and seedy New Orleans scene.
Brotherhood of Groove’s Pocket Full of Funk can be found at the band’s shows or on their website at BrotherhoodofGroove.com
[Published on: 2/26/02]
- GALACTIC with Triple Threat| 1.25-26.2002 |Irving Plaza NYC (B.Getz on JamBase)
- JOHN SCOFIELD BAND- UBERJAM | BOULDER | 3.10.02 (B.Getz on JamBase)