Wade Schuman got things off to a raucous start with his solo blues harmonica. (Bill Barrett, Mr. Schuman's partner in crime on harmonica was not at this show.) He was shortly joined onstage by the band (Peter Smith, Michael Gomez, guitar, vocals), Steve Elson (saxes, piccolo, Armenian wind instrument), Pamela Fleming (trumpet), Joseph Daley (sousaphone), and Richard Livingston Huntley (drums), and it was a rollicking ride through American roots from there. Mr. Schuman observed that the band is often tagged as a Jewish/Klezmer group. This was highlighted when an audience member shouted out "What region are you from?" Mr. Schuman replied "New York!" The band worked its way through a number of tunes from the group's second album, Cicada, including "Mocking Bird", "I've Been Lonely for So Long", Irving Berlin's "Walking Stick", among others. While each of the band members contribute to the tight rhythm and blues syncopation, they each had a chance to shine with marvelous solos. There were some great moments, as when Mr. Daley, on sousaphone, who provides a horn bass for the group, there being no string bass player, had a chance to wail, and duet with Mr. Schuman on harmonica. Mr. Gomez and Mr. Smith each had the opportuunity to cut loose on guitar, and there was a marvelous face off between Mr. Smith and Ms. Fleming on trumpet. Mr. Huntley kicked out the jams to a, frankly, wildly receptive audience at the Jewish Museum. It was delightful.
Wade Schuman on harmonica @ Jewish Museum
Left to right:
Peter Smith, Michael Gomez, Joseph Daley (rear: Richard Livingston Huntley),
Wade Schuman (rear: Pamela Fleming) and Steve Elson
Photos by Anthony M. Napoli 2011
We had a chance to say hello to Mr. Smith after the show, (and buy a copy of CICADA) and he seemed as delighted as we in the audience were with this concluding show of Hazmat Modine's summer tour. It occurred to this listener that, in the category of American roots bands, you have, say "The Band" with that lighter, more country and perhaps more Canadian-influenced vibe, say more of the wolf. And then there is Hamzat Modine which is a tad darker, perhaps more of an Eastern European thread, more of the bear, and a broader, world music palette, which may be the source of the group's "klezmerish" association. But that same darkness offers a very rich and complex tonality, American blues and roots music, forged at midnight, say, at the crossroads.
--Anthony Napoli @ Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn
Cicada, their new CD
"One of New York’s most original bands, HAZMAT MODINE delivers a rustic, deliriously Dionysian blend of whorehouse Blues, Reggae, Klezmer, Country and Gypsy-tinged music. ” ~ Alan Young, Trifecta, NYC"
Hazmat Modine's website here
The Jewish Museum here
Info on the group's CDs here