The Everyone Orchestra
Gramercy Theatre, NYC
Friday, January 17, 2020
For twenty years, Matt Butler has been "leading" a revolving cast of jamband musicians in his wonderfully engaging, utterly spontaneous collective called The Everyone Orchestra. Matt carefully curates musicians that he knows can deliver some inspiring improvisational music for an eager audience ready to dance, chant, and swing. He stands with his back to the audience at his conductor's dais, in tophat and tails, scribbling a key on his wipe board, holding it up for the musicians and audience to see, pointing to the drummer or bassist or guitarist, etc., to start the "song," to improv on a riff or beat in the "key" proffered, finding within the groove via the riffing the foundation of the song so the other musicians can fall in. From there, Butler will influence the tempo, the soloists, the volume, maybe even modulating the key to keep everyone on the ready. It is pure magic.
Here's some footage from a previous show to give you an idea of how it goes:
Friday night's jam featured pedal steel guru Robert Randolph, along with bassist Rob Mercurio (Galactic.), keyboardist AC Carter (Tauk), guitarist Chuck Garvey (moe.), drummer Vinnie Amico (moe.), flautist Domenica Fossati (Underground System Afrobeat), trumpeter Mike Maher (Snarky Puppy), and saxophonist Chris Bullock (Snarky Puppy). Right out of the gate, the music was funky and jazzy and groovy. These amazing players were eager to share their individual chops with this free-flowing collective and an all-too-eager audience. Randolph started several of the jams. One in fact featured a wicked riff that seemed nearly impossible to duplicate on the other instruments, but his peers on stage where more than up to the task. The audience ate it up. Moving and swaying and dancing and smiling. It's an evening one truly has experience to fully enjoy the proceedings. Never boring or dull. Just pure music and spontaneous creativity for all to hear and share.
Opening the evening was the Ashville, NC instrumental jamband quartet Marsupial. With hints of progressive rock, psychedelic, and jazz music, these virtuosos provided the perfect bridge for the audience and the forthcoming headliner. I look forward to seeing them again.