Chemistry, timing, and musical diversity have always contributed to the magic of The Beast, Durham's live hip hop/jazz dynamo. Now those qualities get showcased every other week at Jack Sprat, at a free live show from 9-11 pm called aLive Tuesdays with The Beast.
What makes these evenings so much more than a live rehearsal is the way the sets are structured: the two hours are subdivided into four, gem-like sets, covering three or more genres, and featuring one invited guest.
This week began with instrumental jazz by The Beast Trio (minus Pierce). Then singer/songwriter Greg Humphreys did a solo set of his originals. Greg really kills it on the mic in a warm, intimate setting like this, expertly modulating his tone from jazz to soul to country. The full Beast convened next, doing 2 or 3 new songs. (Pierce said they are getting ready to record again this month.)
This headliner set always leads off with The Beast's "Sample of the Week," a live-composed jam based on a sample chosen by a different member of the band. This time, pianist Eric Hirsh went with a classical riff from "Venus," from Gustav Holst's orchestral suite "The Planets." Here's the beautiful, spontaneous result:
Finally, Greg joined The Beast for a closing set. Greg did this classy, witty ballad, "Must Be The Moon," already recorded with The Beast Trio, to be released on Greg's next album in 2011. Here's part of it, with a nice little piano solo by Eric:
"Must be the Moon" (Greg Humphreys/Nancy Armstrong), (c) Phrex Music BMI.
The set (and show) ended with this slamming collaborative version of Curtis Mayfield's "Move On Up," which Greg often performs with his band Hobex. It featured an added rap by Pierce and a guitar solo by Greg:
So many pretty, cross-pollinated performances in one night...can't think of the last time I got so many kicks in two hours, for the price of a beer.
The next aLive Tuesdays with The Beast will be March 22, featuring "ChamberSoul" cellist/vocalist Shana Tucker.
Photo Credit: Tiona Fuller
Shana's debut CD Shine was just released a few weeks ago, give a listen on her website.