Finessing after-hours club feel
By Mike Joyce
Friday, May 25, 2012
When you kick off an album with a cover of Ike Turner’s “Getting Nasty,” prepare to suffer stinging comparisons. Unless, of course, you manage to pull off a trick as disarming as keyboardist Erik Deutsch’s updated mix of resonating funk and melodic finesse.
With his eclectic tastes and diverse collaborations, the Washington native has a tendency to keep listeners guessing. On “Demonio Teclado” the payoff comes in a variety of ways, from a six-minute take on Neil Young’s “Don’t Let It Bring You Down,” awash in a squall of steel guitar dissonance, to the sleek soul-jazz closer, “Ms. Pelican,” one of seven original tunes. Besides the always-welcome allusions to vintage rhythm and blues and keyboard-centric soul-jazz, a wide array of pop, rock, fusion and jam-band influences color the arrangements, which were swiftly recorded and with a minimum of fuss. Although a studio session, “Demonio Teclado” often evokes a relaxed, after-hours club setting.
The absence of a horn section doesn’t pose much of a problem. “Funky Digits” has sufficient brass to get the job done, thanks to trumpeter Jon Gray, who is at his best when contributing to the noirish atmospherics on “Creeper.” For additional contrasts, Deutsch can always count on drummer Tony Mason and guitarists Glenn Taylor and Brandon Seabrook to make their presence felt. For vivid examples, look no further than the imaginatively orchestrated Young cover and the cosmic fusion jazz excursion “D.D.T.”