Dan Weiss Starebaby: Metal Jazz


Matt Mitchell, Ben Monder, Dan Weiss, Trevor Dunn, and Craig Taborn photo by Kyle Johnson

Friday, June 22, 7 & 9:30pm
The Royal Room
5000 Rainier Ave S

Presented by Earshot Jazz

Here’s a mesmerizing quintet in which all five members are bona fide stars.

To get a sense of where they’re coming from, bear in mind that the outfit’s drummer leader not only is thoroughly schooled in Indian percussion, but has also powered the drive train of the sludge-metal band Bloody Panda.

So, imagine a rather doom-dredged baby gazing out from the bandstand as it savors that combination, with a mischievous glint in its eye and a little cuddly panda blood on its hands.

But there’s more: the band weaves into its mix the singular contributions of four of the heaviest hitters in modern-day muscular jazz, electric and acoustic: Ben Monder (guitars), Trevor Dunn (electric bass), and Craig Taborn and Matt Mitchell (keyboards).

Together the five players create slaying yet rollicking jazz-ish music, some of the most vital of this moment in the history of the art form.

Dan Weiss has come to be acclaimed as one of New York’s most compelling, innovative drummers behind such recordings as his large-ensemble 2014 outing Fourteen and its 2016 follow-up Sixteen: Drummers Suite, both on the cutting-edge Pi Recordings label. A graduate of Manhattan School of Music with a major in jazz percussion and a minor in classical composition, he has toured and recorded with the varied likes of Lee Konitz, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Miguel Zenon, Kenny Werner, and David Binney.

Mitchell is a Philadelphian who performs frequently with a host of the most compelling of New York’s many expanders of jazz traditions.

Taborn was schooled in the deep, expansive traditionalism of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and Sun Ra, and the iconoclasm of Cecil Taylor. He toured and recorded with saxophonist James Carter before becoming a first-call keyboardist in both electronic and acoustic settings. He has by now released several albums under his own name and appeared on scores of others.

Guitarist Ben Monder moderates Starebaby’s mixture of melody and muscle with edgy fragility and nuanced slashing.

Trevor Dunn on bass is a fabled figure in New York in many varieties of experimental music; particularly celebrated have been his contributions to the inspired musical cacophony of thrashers Mr. Bungle, Fantômas, and Secret Chiefs 3. He has featured in various Mike Patton and John Zorn projects for skills equally as honed on electric bass as on upright acoustic, as he demonstrated recently in his Seattle appearance with Chris Speed’s Endangered Blood. Among Dunn’s more surprising accomplishments is to have played—with the rock band Melvins Lite—51 gigs in 50 states and D.C. in 51 days in an (apparently unsuccessfully) attempt at inclusion in the Guinness Book of World Records.

That’s the kind of commitment and staying power Starebaby has, too. Few other bands working today can put the quintet to bed.

–Peter Monaghan

Adults $18, Earshot members & seniors $16, students & veterans/military $10. Tickets and information at earshot.org.

Note: Tickets do not guarantee seating during shows at the Royal Room. To guarantee a good seat, make a dinner reservation at reservations@theroyalroomseattle.com. The Royal Room is an all-ages venue until 10pm.


Posted on

May 31, 2018