Jukejoint – March/April 2002
by Jim Kelly
What: Groove-jazz, funk-jazz, alterna- jazz-funk, take your pick
Where: Toronto, ON
To Contact: Jukejoint: 158 Dovercourt Rd., Toronto, ON M6J 3C4 (416) 516-8603; Media Contact: Francine Labelle/ Francine Labelle Ink, (416) 277-7666, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.jukejoint.ca.
Jazz-funk. Funk-jazz. Groove-jazz. The Toronto quartet Jukejoint never knows quite how to label itself. And as far as I’m concerned, anything that defies easy categorization is worth checking out. The group, which released its second CD, Organic Matter, back in September, was formed in 1995 by guitarist Steve “Chili” Grebanier (formerly of Punjabi By Nature), and also includes Frank Zochil on keyboards, D’Arcy Rittich on basses and Dave Patel on drums (blues harp player Ansgar Schroer also makes several appearances on the CD). Offering six original Grebanier compositions, the disc also features four re-interpretations of Wayne Shorter tunes and a particularly wild reconsidering of a Stevie Wonder classic. The lead-off track, “As If”, begins in a bouncy groove-jazz vein, until it breaks down into a clavinet workout that’s obviously inspired by Wonder’s “Superstition”. The Stevie homage continues with a working over of Wonder’s “Too High” that almost sounds like a Doors’ jam at times, with Grebanier’s fuzzy guitar washes and Zochil’s distorted electric piano driving the song right up to the edge. And all this is anchored around the incredibly tight rhythm section of Rittich and Patel. “The first thing we try and aim for is a heavy groove,” Grebanier says, “and the other important element in our music is improvisation, communication.” The improv element helps the group appeal to the jam band crowd as well, he says. Whatever you call it, it’s a sound that takes you with it, whether you want to go or not. So go!