All Good Presents
Lettuce and John Scofield Uberjam Band
815 V St. NW
Washington, DC, 20001
For more than two decades, Lettuce have brought a new vitality to classic funk, matching their smooth and soulful grooves with a hip-hop-inspired urgency and mastery of beat. Now, on their fourth studio album Crush, drummer Adam Deitch, guitarists Adam Smirnoff and Eric Krasno, bassist Erick “Jesus” Coomes, keyboardist Neal Evans, saxophonist Ryan Zoidis, and trumpet player Eric Bloom deepen that sound by channeling the sonic freedom and infectious energy of their incendiary live show.
Produced by Lettuce and recorded/mixed by Joel Hamilton at Brooklyn’s Studio G, Crush first came to life on the road, with the band developing new material and testing it out live as they toured. “We’ve all noticed that our music goes into a lot of different directions onstage, and we wanted to capture that in a way that we never really have before,” says Coomes, who names classic psychedelia and ‘90s hip-hop among Lettuce’s key inspirations on Crush. “It’s definitely more wide-open in terms style, but it still stays true to the funk.”
The follow-up to 2012’s Fly, Crush finds Lettuce brilliantly infusing their psychedelic and hip-hop sensibilities into bass-heavy funk. With its spidery guitar work and hypnotic beats, “Phyllis” is a delicately sprawling epic that embodies what Deitch refers to as “a chill-hop vibe that’s kind of the flip-side of all that powerful uptempo funk that people might expect from us.” On “Get Greasy,” Lettuce give a nod to the groove-fueled EDM subgenre known as future funk, building off its highly danceable rhythm with a blissfully loose and horn-laced arrangement. And on “He Made a Woman Out of Me,” guest vocalist Alecia Chakour lends her bluesy growl to a scorching take on Bobbie Gentry’s 1970 country-soul classic.
According to Lettuce, that sense of unity and togetherness has much to do with a camaraderie that’s only intensified over the lifespan of the band. Formed in 1992, when several band members attended a summer program at Boston’s Berklee College of Music as teenagers, Lettuce was founded on a shared love of legendary funk artists like Earth, Wind & Fire and Tower of Power. After returning to Berklee as undergrads in 1994, Lettuce started playing in local clubs and steadily built up a following that soon extended to cities across the country and then throughout the world. Releasing their studio debut Outta Here in 2002 and its follow-up album Rage! in 2009, the band dedicated the coming years to balancing their frequent touring with involvement in a host of other musical endeavors (including Evans and Krasno’s role as founding members of acclaimed soul/jazz trio Soulive).
In recent years, Lettuce have watched their fan base expand as they’ve hit bigger and bigger stages and earned their name as a can’t-miss festival act. And in making Crush, the band had no trouble harnessing the spirit of their explosive live show. “Some of these shows we’ve played over the past couple years have been so amazing, it’s like you go home a different person,” says Coomes. “I’m sure remembering those moments in our minds and our hearts helped bring out something special when we were recording these new songs.”
So while Crush offers everything from all-out party jams to headphone-ready journeys into space funk, each track was born from an unabashed joy and love of live performance. “That energy we get when it’s prime time and we’re about to go onstage and we’re just excited beyond belief—that all came out on this new album,” says Deitch. “There’s a feeling that the band is rising, and it’s a really beautiful thing.”
John Scofield Uberjam Band
Guitarist John Scofield started the Uberjam project in 2000. Once he found super rhythm guitarist Avi Bortnick, he played with various bass-drum teams before finding the right chemistry for two CDs: Uberjam and Up All Night. Today his bassist is Andy Hess and Tony Mason handles the drum duties.
Scofield is one of the principal innovators of the way modern jazz guitar is played. He expresses himself in the vernaculars of Bebop, blues, jazz-funk, acoustic chamber jazz and electronic groove music. He has worked as a sideman with musicians ranging from Miles Davis to Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead. He has recorded with Pat Metheny, Charlie Haden, Bill Frisell, Brad Mehldau, Mavis Staples, Jim Hall, Herbie Hancock and Joe Henderson to name a few.
Uberjam has just released a new recording, Uberjam Deux, and Scofield has this to say about it: “We explore different forms of groove music…We get into funk, Afrobeat, reggae, house music, R&B…Many of the new tunes are co-written by Avi and myself. “
John Scofield was born in Dayton, Ohio, and raised in suburban Connecticut. He took up the guitar at age 11 and attended Berklee College of Music in Boston. After a debut recording with Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker in 1974, Scofield was a member of the Billy Cobham-George Duke band for two years. In 1977, he recorded with Charles Mingus, and later joined the Gary Burton quartet. From 1982–1985, Scofield toured and recorded with Miles Davis.