BACON ROCKS THE HANK (Saturday, May 12, 2012)
by Tim Birchard
Debuting to a full house at Durango, Colorado’s Henry Strater Theater, Bacon lived up to its addictive name, leaving the audience shouting and begging for more. This reviewer begs the reader’s forgiveness for not yet knowing the names of all of the band members, and for possibly even coming across as a bit incoherent at times. Having just witnessed one of the best performances of the year, I’m a bit stunned, taken aback, and inspired, all at once.
Funky and syncopated like early Jazz Crusaders, but just a little less polite, Bacon is clearly one of the most important jazz quintets to hit the stage today. Simply put, these guys are on fire. They avoid the typical jazz posturing while maintaining a commanding presence through a solid vocabulary.
The sax and trumpet were beautifully locked together, sounding as full as an entire brass section yet as limber and flexible as a single musician. The entire band seemed to shift and pulse like a single organism, writhing like a snake, striking at unexpected rests in perfect unison, even after only five rehearsals together. Bacon’s dynamics were a sight to behold… From soft, gentle brushstrokes of pale shades, they’d turn on a dime and bring the energy up to a blistering crescendo, mirrored by the frenzied excitement of the audience.
The guitarist’s Ibanez semi-hollow body, which he ran through a Fender Deluxe, had just enough overdrive to make it gritty; his chording was clean and brilliant, while his solos sizzled. The sax player was articulate, smooth, and able to play the fastest runs with ease, while the bassist’s 5-string finger style playing was rock solid, locking in the groove with the ever-grinning drummer.
And The Drummer. My. God. This guy was clearly having the time of his life. He was constantly playing musical jokes and laughing out loud at his own punchlines. Sometimes they were so good that I laughed out loud, as well. But as I looked around, it didn’t look like anyone else got it. All the better… it was like they were inside jokes, and I was part of the in-crowd. To see this guy in action was to witness poetry in motion. After they were finished and the next band was playing, he happened to walk by my seat, and I shamelessly grabbed his hand and said, “Dude! You are freaking amazing!” He thanked me, with a stunned look. Either he thought I was a freak, or he doesn’t actually realize how good he is. Maybe that’s for the best; he was clearly playing for the love of it, devoid of any hint of ego. Just like everyone else in the band.
The trumpet player, Chris Ross, has a knack for playing exactly the notes that sound right… like an artist who knows instinctively what color to use in any given situation. From subtle nuances to all-out, red-faced, staccato jamming, it sounded at times as if Chris was blowing his soul out through his horn.
The only disappointment of the night was that Bacon left the stage after only three songs, turning the mic over to the headliners of the evening. Hopefully the next time Bacon performs, it’ll be for at least 90 minutes; preferably for 2 hours. I will gladly buy tickets to see these guys as soon as I can. I urge you to check them out.
More Bacon, please!