It's simple horticulture: when Jerry Garcia died in 1995, 250 pounds of cells infused with various hallucinogens were released into the environment. Tragic, yes, but the moment also provided the organic foundation necessary for the evolution of the jam band, a species (or class, order or phylum) of music that includes progressive jazz and funk—as well as world music and blues—but is noteworthy for its common love of long-format improvisation and fan base.
"It's an underground movement but it's still huge," says John Harrington, trumpeter extraordinaire and one of four founding members still with Delta Nove, one of the premier (maybe few) jam bands to ever spring from Orange County and Long Beach. During the past eight years, Delta Nove has played hundreds of gigs and traversed the country multiple times, even garnering airplay on more than 100 college and independent stations. Turns out all that hard work isn't too much of a buzz kill, though: "It's intense and it's an industry," Harrington admits, "but you do have a lot more control over where you're going and what you want to do than in the [mainstream record] industry."
For Harrington and his band mates, this control means relying on jazz horns and a wildly eclectic array of beats and rhythms rather than psychedelic guitar-noodling. It's still spacey and organic, but far more exuberant, an alchemical brew of funk, samba, jazz, afro-beat, rock, ska, reggae and electronica that never gives the listener's head time to catch up. The body leads the brain at a Delta Nove show; you don't have time to contemplate the cosmos because you're too busy shaking your ass.
Delta Nove CD release party Vault 350, 350 Pine St., Long Beach, (562) 590-5566. Fri., 8 p.m. $17.50. 21+.
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