August 30, 2009
In a well-hidden, acoustically suited room on the Lower East Side, the sweet and dissonant sounds of Jim Campilongo fill the ears of attentive listeners. He’s a marble among the chards of glass.
Campilongo’s longtime Monday night residency at The Living Room showcases his versatility. Sometimes he goes solo, shredding a combination of classical and jazz guitar, speaking the language of sweet beauty. But when accompanied by his electric trio, Campilongo comes hard. Last Monday, alongside bassist Jeff Hill and drummer Tony Mason, the trio crossed the board with infectious blues, hard jazz, and a little bossa nova.
The electric trio started off with what one might expect to hear, minding the name, acid jazz. It was funk, it was raw, and it never shied away from a tight groove. It would have been acceptable to assume the whole night would be filled with similar tunes, but growing from rapturous harmonies, the set was counterbalanced with cross-genres of jazz. Transitions may not have been placed with the most grace, yet it all seemed so genius.
The song “Chelsea Bridge” followed the funk. Its quiet arrangement was filled with passionate chords and represented Campilongo’s respect as a musician, demonstrating that one doesn’t have to play a bunch of useless, fast notes to be heard. Refinement is key. This is also the case for “Maceo,” a tune off his upcoming album, Orange. From the venom of jazz, to the slight swing of it all, the trio went directly into the country twang of dixieland. Campilongo proves time and time again that there isn’t anything he can’t attack with style and elite composition.
Orange is set to be released in February 2010. Campilongo is prolonging the release because he doesn’t want to compete with everyone on the planet during the holiday rush. Good news, though, he will have CDs on hand within the next few weeks.
Campilongo doesn’t play every Monday, but often enough. I highly suggest taking a late night trek to the LES to check him out.
by Genette Nowak