After Dark bands draw comparisons |

After Dark bands draw comparisons

Stewart Oksenhorn

While Joan Osborne’s set is unpredictable, even for the singer’s fans, tonight’s JAS After Dark show at the Snowmass Conference Center might be easy to get a handle on, even for those who have never heard of Aphrodesia or the New Mastersounds. The two bands, both making their Jazz Aspen debuts, are co-billed for the 9:30 p.m. show.On their recent CD “This Is What We Do,” the New Mastersounds are dead ringers for New Orleans funk band the Meters. The instrumentation is identical – guitar, Hammond B-3 organ, electric bass and drums – and the sounds they get from those instruments are remarkably familiar, from the CD’s beginning to end. Making the similarity odder is that the New Mastersounds are a British quartet.”Frontline,” the recent CD by San Francisco’s Aphrodesia, is just as likely to bring to mind another iconic musician: Fela Kuti, the late pioneer of Nigerian Afrobeat. Aphrodesia’s music is activist in its lyrics, and African-accented in its beat. It’s not quite the spot-on match that the New Mastersounds are for the Meters, but the link is clear.”Musically, its a jumping off point,” said Aphrodesia bassist and frontman Ezra Gale. “There are other Afrobeat bands that do more faithful interpretations. I don’t even consider us an Afrobeat band.”But the different parts, the layers of guitars and horns, are patterned after Fela. He’s the biggest influence among many others: Guyanan high-life, music from Zimbabwe, Ethiopia. But I don’t think you can hear any of those quite as much as you hear Fela.”It remains to be seen if “This Is What We Do” reflects what the New Mastersounds do in concert. Earlier albums are reputed to lean a little jazzier. And one expert on the subject – saxophonist Karl Denson, who played on “You Got It All,” a track from “This Is What We Do” – says he sees daylight between the two bands.”The cool thing is you have this ripping guitar player, Eddie Roberts, who has a very different way of ripping than Leo Nocentelli, of the Meters,” said Denson, leader of funk band Tiny Universe. “It gives the band a different groove.”

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