Saturday Night Special with J.E.D.I. in Saratoga Springs, NY
(Writer: Tammie Eller)
On Saturday, March 23, in Saratoga Springs, New York, the planets aligned and Putnam Place hosted Jazz Electronica Dance Improvised or J.E.D.I to keep things simple. The band capped off a four-day run with an epic set that didn’t end until well past two in the morning.
A Brooklyn-based “space rock” band called Escaper kicked things off with a shockingly eclectic set full of funk, rock, electronica, jazz, and more. Escaper means, “one who escapes confinement,” and this band lives up to its name.
Escaper said last night that they made some recent changes to their lineup and they are pumping out some new tunes. And, it’s time to get excited because they are back in the studio recording their third album with Ropeadope Records. We got a sneak preview of a couple of their new tracks last night including a sit-in with Aron Magner, and such a kick-ass rendition of David Bowie’s “Young Americans,” that it left everyone excited to see what’s next with the new guys on board.
(Photo: Billy Francis LeRoux)
Catch Will Hanza on guitar, Jay Giacomazzo on bass, Wayan Zoey on Drums, Johnny Butler on Sax, and Phil Kadet on keys on one of Escaper’s upcoming tour dates including Disc Jam and Elements Lakewood Camping, Music, and Art Festival.
Then, after Escaper finished up, J.E.D.I. took the stage. A little background on J.E.D.I. — Aaron Johnston, the drummer from Brazilian Girls, started the project around two years ago. Since then, Johnston and the J.E.D.I. project has seen a rotating cast of musicians such as Michael Kang from the String Cheese Incident and Dominic Lalli from Big Gigantic.
Last night, bassist Marc Brownstein and keyboardist Aron Magner from the Disco Biscuits joined with Johnston. The three musicians met in Albany after the Disco Biscuits performed at the Palace in November 2018. They played a set together at a party after the show, and couldn’t get enough. So, the three musicians planned the four-day Spring Equinox Tour, and they closed it out last night in Saratoga Springs.
The set began with Aron Magner alone on stage with his keyboards delighting everyone with some smooth-tempo liquid trance. Then, Johnston and Brownstein joined him on stage and proceeded to blow our minds for the next couple of hours.
Any attempt to try and nail down what genres we heard throughout the night is utterly futile because we heard nearly all of them. It seemed impossible that three musicians, with nothing more than a drum kit, a bass guitar, and a couple of keyboards could create such a massive wall of face-melting sounds. Watching Magner switch effortlessly from electronica to smooth jazz to blues and back again was nothing short of astonishing.
Every track seemed all at once entirely new and utterly familiar in the best possible way. Escaper guitarist Will Hamza sat in with J.E.D.I. for an epic track with a side of “Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire” by Jimi Hendrix that blew everyone away immediately followed by another sit-in with keyboardist Phil Kadet.
(Photo: Billy Francis LeRoux)
The absolute best part of the night, however, is the sheer joy and excitement you could see written all over the faces of the men on stage. They were having as much fun, if not more, than every single person there and it showed with every note. J.E.D.I. ended the night with a blues medley masterpiece that included tracks like “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” Even then, well past two in the morning, J.E.D.I was as reluctant to leave the stage as we were to let them go.
So, here’s the deal — when J.E.D.I. comes to a town near you, you don’t want to miss them. Look for their upcoming tour dates including an April 13 show in Denver and one on May 3 in New Orleans for Jazzfest.
Photos by: Billy Francis LeRoux