Review Summary: A unique experience of rock, funk, and jazz from an all-star cast.
Garage a Trois is:
Stanton Moore: Drums
Mike Dillon: Vibraphone, Timbales, Marimba
Marco Benevento: Keyboard, Organ,
The latest incarnation of Garage a Trois includes an all-star lineup of under-appreciated pioneers of what I call jazz fusion revival. Power Patriot, adds Marco Benevento (The Duo) to the band, on keyboard and organ. Prior to the addition of Benevento, Garage a Trois were known for their unique sound, catchy rhythms, and improvisational talent alongside tightly crafted song writing. Benevento has not changed their reputation. He has added a unique ambiance that keeps the band afloat, and carries them out of improvisations. This was missing on the band’s prior releases. While they had established a unique sound for themselves, there was something missing, something to pull it all together.
Ladies and Gentlemen . . . . Marco Benevento is the answer! My only complaint is that he’s not more prominently featured on the album. While he carries a few tunes (Fragile, Purgatory), his presence on most of the album seems to serve as a backup to Mike Dillon’s vibraphone. Not to worry, though, Dillon’s vibraphone playing is mesmerizing. His speed, technicality, and versatility is unmatched by any percussion player. The vibraphone is the driving force behind many songs here (Dory’s Day Out, Dug Out), but Dillon also knows how to lay back and let the other stars of this band shine.
And when they shine, oh boy, they shine! Skerik is one of the most unique, talented, and powerful musicians I’ve ever heard. Through his tantalizing array of foot pedals wired through his sax, he can make his instrument sound like an orchestra. However, Skerik is not only good for adding chaotic noises to improvisational breaks. Although he’s not a primary songwriter on this album, he does come up with some incredible lead sections that carry the songs (Fat Redneck Gangster).
Surprisingly, the only musician I haven’t mentioned so far is Stanton Moore, who is arguably the most well known artist in this lineup. While Moore’s drumming certainly never gets lost in the mix, it also never stands out. This comes as somewhat of a shock, given his reputation in his other projects (Galactic, Stanton Moore Trio) of making himself the star of the show. His drumming is in no way disappointing, its just surprising that he’s not featured more prominently on the album.
For some reason, this band often get labeled a jam band, but for no good reason. In my professional opinion, the sole purpose for the existence of jam bands in the cosmos is to satisfy crowds of hippies on psychedelic drugs so that they don’t freak out and try to do something crazy. Garage a Trios is on a mission to do something much greater. Their improvisation is what takes them to incredible heights, but it’s their carefully crafted song writing that keeps the album interesting from start to finish.
There is also an incredible amount of diversity on this album, but GAT is careful not to stray too far from their signature sound. Power Patriot features fun, upbeat, and catchy tunes alongside dark and atmospheric sounds, making the album more of a journey than any of their past releases have been.
On a down-note, I was slightly disappointed by this release only because I’d been anticipating it for nearly a year now, and many of the songs on here have been played live for a couple of years. Considering Benevento has been playing with the band since 2005, it seems like they could’ve written a few more new songs over the past 4 years. Otherwise, this is an excellent release from a stellar crew of diverse musicians that can appeal to fans of any genre