New Orleans-Tuesday, September 8, 2009

It seems like the hottest night of the year, this Tuesday in September on Frenchman St. The street seems bare, The Snug Harbor is closed to renovations, and the Spotted Cat has closed to a management failure. But upstairs from the Blue Nile, life abounds. As part of the “Open Ears” series, organized by local trombonist, Jeff Albert, the Jazz-Rock-Avante Garde-“come what may” ensemble of “Neslort,” is tearing it up. At first, it seems as if they would be playing to only a few people, but by the end of the 3rd song, the place was packed, not with people just meandering and getting drunk, but with people attentively listening and getting into it. It developed into somewhat of a “Welcome Home” party.

Long disbanded since 1998, the group has come together again under the leadership of its creator, Rick Trolsen. A former member of “Bonerama” and “The New Orleans Nightcrawlers,” the trombonist originally formed this group as a vehicle for his, witty, innovative, and driving compositions. Their sound has been likened to a cross between Frank Zappa and the Jazz Crusaders. Personally, I think they defy comparison.

With Tenor Saxophonist, Brent Rose by his side, yes, it’s somewhat reminiscent of the Jazz Crusaders, but the material they are playing shows influences of Bach, Don Ellis, Chick Corea, and Frank Zappa, along with the undeniable grooves of what one would expect of a New Orleans band. Throw in a bit of circus music and some spontaneous improvisation, and there it is, a new kind of Gumbo called “Neslort.”

Laying down odd meter grooves, the rhythm section makes the music sound as funky and fluid as any funk band might. Keyboardist, Brian Coogan, at one moment is playing a lush, rubato solo, and as soon as the groove kicks, he’s laying down bebop licks like the masters. Bassist, Matt Perrine, in his ever-original style, holds down the fortress with his fretless singing throughout. Guitarist, Tim Robertson, donning a bicycle helmet, sounds like Steve Vai on Red Bull. Drummer, Boyanna Trayanova, of Bulgarian descent, fittingly rocks the band with hell bound solos, and “balls to the wall” grooves.

I, for one, can’t wait to hear them again. Keep your eye out for this band. It will get your blood moving, and keep your head spinning.

Zircoff Mata-Freelance Writer