Editorial Review

Album review: "Live in Chicago"
By Mark Jenkins
Friday, June 15, 2012

The 1990s jam-band revival initially produced a glut of wish-we-were Deads but gradually encompassed reggae, funk, Afropop, techno, jazz and more. All that, plus a little hip-hop, can be heard on Rubblebucket’s third album, “Live in Chicago.” The Brooklyn octet’s versatility doesn’t always yield originality, but its music is unfailingly buoyant. And this album is solid evidence of the group’s ability to keep its multi-genre style on track in concert.

The band, originally called Rubblebucket Orchestra, was founded by Kalmia Traver and Alex Toth. She plays saxophone and he’s on trumpet, which explains why the horn section gets plenty of leeway. But all of the players are showcased, as the music shifts from earthy to spacy, and two percussionists pace the transitions. The CD (packaged with a DVD of the same show) opens with one of the combo’s great assets: Ian Hersey’s cascading, West African-style guitar.

Traver also is the lead singer, and this is one jam band that doesn’t neglect songwriting. The words to psychedelic romps such as “Breatherz (Young as Clouds)” can be a little too mind-blown, but the brisk melodies and exuberant rhythms put them across, banishing memories of tuneless, sluggish jammers of yore.