On October 11th 2012 at Martyrs' in Chicago, iconic guitarist Wayne Krantz demonstrated - as he has time and again - that he is easily one of the most forward-thinking, adventurous improvisers on the jazz-rock-whateveryoucallit scene today. Joining Krantz for this gig were drummer Keith Carlock - a frequent Krantz cohort, and double-duty Nate Wood on both bass AND drums (often at the same time!). Throughout the trio's lengthy set, they consistantly showcased an uncanny ability to utilize any song or riff as a launching point for fearless group improvisation. Their stirring version of Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke's "Black Swan" was a prime example. Krantz's interpretation involved delivering the song's simple, infectious melody over a busy Carlock and Wood groove, then using that head to bookend a fiery kinetic jam. Also of note was the way Krantz adapted some his own music from his latest disc Howie 61 for a live trio format. The band's takes on the album's title track and "U Strip It," for example, were nearly unrecognizable from the originals given their retooled grooves and vocal arrangements.
From the first tune to the last, the common thread of the evening was spontaneity. Every song had at least one "Wow" moment where the band's improvisational hive-mind came together on something that made your jaw drop. One of the coolest aspects of the night for me was how "on board" the crowd was with the band's explorations. An engaged listener reaps the most rewards from a Krantz live performance, and it was great to see such a high level of buy-in from the audience. This was especially heartening given that this was the first time Krantz had ever performed in Chicago with his own band. New York-area musos are used to Krantz's unique group improv stylings by now, but Chicagoans are not. Here's hoping the warm reception given to Krantz, Carlock and Wood last week will grease the skids for more Chicago appearances in the future.
Follow the link below for my photos from this amazing show.