Ommmm-my-goodness! - Om Trio Entrances San Diego

report filed 8/24/01, 7:33 pm PDT - I don't make too many promises. Just sorta programmed that way. The logic? It's easier to be effective as a music journalist when expectations are low, vs. attempting to deliver on well intended, but poorly thought out obligations. Especially when you've got alot of 'em floating around. Anyway, after crossing paths with the Om Trio for the first time, a brief set opening for Karl Denson at the Belly-Up, I promised to focus on these guys when the next opportunity presented itself. Didn't even hesitate. The Om Trio is that good. So when Winston's monthly music calendar had the Oms slated for a Sunday night show, I marked my daily planner accordingly.

Headquartered in San Francisco, the Om Trio has earned a heavy rep in the short span of a few years. For starters, all three of the players, Brian Felix on keyboards, drummer Ilya Stemkovsky, and Pete Novembre on bass, are each a formidable musician in their own right. Sure, there's plenty of chop monsters strutting around the music scene these days, players who frenetically rip and shred their instrument of choice into a salad shooter of sound, but very few have the ability or sophistication to season their technique with restraint and understatement. Call it dynamics. Call it musical peaks and valleys. Call it whatever the heck you want - all three of the Oms have it. And they've got it in a big way. Especially as a unit.

Need proof? The Om Trio was voted as the 'Best Local Jazz Band' in San Francisco by the readers of the San Francisco Bay Guardian. No small feat. After all, we're not talkin' about some dinky little, one gas station speed trap out in the middle of nowhere. We're talkin' about freakin' San Francisco! Can you say: super competitive? And guess what... the Oms won by a landslide!

Of course, our highly trained staff of new music reviewers didn't need to be told how good the Om Trio is. All they had to do was listen. And one listen was all it took. Stylistically, the Oms cover alot of ground. Elements of be-bop, post-bop, fusion, funk, space jams and groove, all play a part in their music. Jamfans dig 'em because the emphasis on improv makes every show an adventure, and there's nothing better than that for those of us who like our music live...

If you have the opportunity to catch the Om Trio on their current tour, by all means get out and see for yourself what all the excitement is about... and for those of you who aren't so fortunate, take my advice and order a copy of their outstanding new double disc CD, Om Trio Live... can you say: Ommm-my goodness!?

Speaking of CDs, it's time once again to shine the spotlight on some of the best releases to cross my cluttered desk in recent weeks... that's right, here we go again with a new batch of:

These CDs Don't Suck:

Richard "Groove" Holmes - The Best of the Pacific Jazz Years

The nickname says it all. Long before Medeski, Martin and Wood introduced 'groove' jazz to today's 3rd generation jamfans, Richard "Groove" Holmes was pioneering the deep, keyboard driven sound back in the early/mid '60s. This terrific compilation CD showcases some of 'Groove's' most intense recordings, featuring collaborations with jazz heavyweights Ben Webster, Gene Edwards, Joe Pass, Leroy Henderson, and Les McCann, to name just a few.

Juggling Suns - Get Abducted

No jamband in the post-Garcia era has remained as true to their Grateful Dead roots as Juggling Suns. Channeling the same cosmic energy that sparked the original San Francisco 'sound,' the New Jersey Suns have once again struck the perfect balance of honoring the past, celebrating the present and charting the future. In addition to stunning versions of the Dead's transcendental masterpiece Dark Star, and Chester 'Howlin' Wolf' Burnette's Smokestack Lightning, original tunes like Fortune Teller and Twilight Dance, make Get Abducted an essential disc for any self-respecting psychedelic music collection. Oh yeah, everyone here at Anytime/Anywhere Studio really digs the way cool cover art by Brianne!

Jive - Self Titled

Recorded live in front of their hometown fans in Boulder, Colorado, Jive's self-titled release features an energetic, two guitar-two sax-bass-and-drums attack that scores high marks for danceability and intellectual stimulation. Funky rhythms pushing melodic solos are highlighted by a saxophonist who also plays flute, as well guest appearances on keyboards and turntables. If you like to shake your booty, you're gonna like this CD.

C. Lanzbom - Meditations

Best known for his electric guitar work and vocals with Soulfarm (formerly Inasense), C. Lanzbom's all instrumental, acoustic side is equally compelling. As the title implies, Meditations is a soundtrack for peace of mind. Too unpretentious and limber to be called 'classical,' and too melodic for a 'new age' label, Meditations finds a happy medium somewhere in between. Joined by the soothing voices of a harp, acoustic bass, violin, flute and a hint of percussion, Lanzbom has created an exquisite audio brain massage that is both relaxing and curiously invigorating.

Entrain - All One

Sweet, world beat harmonies, insane percussion, Afro-rydm guitars, hot bass lines, passionate horns and an upbeat, positive vibe make Entrain's tribal grooves the perfect fireside sing-along for rhythm savages of all ages. Nice!!!

DJ Harry - The String Cheese Remix Project

Here's DJ Harry's concept: sample bits and pieces from various String Cheese Incident live shows, loop 'em in a techno style and see what happens. With his background in both the day-glo-hoola-hoopin'-mountain-grass of String Cheese, and the strobe-light-spinnin'-thump-fest of techno, DJ Harry has succeeded in taking the more organic, mostly acoustic voices of SCI's instrumentation, and blended them into new, intoxicating techno mutations. Self righteous, fanatical purists from both worlds may hate this project for intruding on sacred territory, but for everyone else who is simply interested in high grade audio stimuli without the extra curricular dogma, The String Cheese Remix is all of that.

We've also posted Doggy Style - A new book by longtime Allman Brothers Roadie, ‘The Legendary Red Dog,’ takes readers on a fast paced walk through the sex, drugs and rock & roll of the band’s early years, for your reading pleasure.

So there ya go. Although we're not making any promises [;^), there is good reason to suspect that we'll have some new and exciting stuff for ya next time, when our adventure in music journalism continues...

Rene Magritte (1898-1967) - self portrait 1965