Sunday, 12 June 2016

Fatbeat! Powerhouse Jazz / Funk from Madrid.

Fatbeat! are a  Jazz / Alt Rock Funk / (whatever) band based in Madrid, Spain. I saw them play a stunning set in a small bar in Gijon, Spain on Friday night, parts of which left me, and the others there fortuitously assembled, quite breath-taken.

I guess you could call what they do a kind of jazz rock (long instrumentals played with expertise and chops) but the two sets played on Friday night were extremely varied and took in elements not only of Jazz but also Psychedelia, Folk, Funk, Alt Rock and even 20th Century classical music.

Formed in Madrid in 2009, they've released  two fine albums of self-composed material (available here on bandcamp). Their second album "Animals" .is a good solid modern jazz-rock album but sometimes the performances come over as a little too polite for me and it's really in a live setting that the material seems to come to life and breathe fire.

As a live band they really are a serious force to be reckoned with and if you get a chance, you should go see them play. All are very accomplished musicians but Miguel Benito, in particular, is a powerhouse of a drummer who lays down the,solid but frisky grooves the rest of the band - Mario Quiñones on guitar, Andrés Miranda on sax, keyboardist Alberto Morales and bassist Ander Garcia - are free to improvise over. And this is no revival of 70s noodling jazz fusion, the riffs here are catchy and lively and band play soulfully rather than excessively.

I think they are a band who deserve to be much more widely known. Spain has a thriving contemporary music scene and Fatbeat! are one of the best new bands (Spanish or otherwise) I've seen in a long time.

Check them out.

Here's the encore from Friday night's gig at the Cafe Plaza Doze in Gijon, Spain.

Here's a ferocious clip of them in Madrid in 2012. Crank it up.

Band website (in Spanish)
On bandcamp

More stranger than known

Asturian Jazz: The Xaime Arias Trio at the Alambique, Gijon, Spain 7/8/2014


    [Surprised a bit to see "nothing" RE: Van Morrison -
    Van has as many great bootlegs as ANY still active "classic" artist?
    As true as anybody they may be a bit scattered as per any single "one" being definitive but as so MANY of his greatest 70's numbers were essentially "live or almost-live in studio" - 10x's more so than any major act but Dylan - that a big list like yours almost contains a lacunae in this regard?
    By that I mean Van cannot be fully appreciated UNLESS one explores his relatively vast "unofficial" live records. Also, ONLY he and Dylan (Dylan "Biograph" and Van "Philosophers Stone") were the two majors to release "sanctioned" outtakes yielding multiple-disc packages coming from bonafide record companies? More Van and Dylan (unless you count the Dead?) boots were sought after unless you also count acts like Zeppelin or Floyd - but they were viable for briefer periods - and though perhaps fewer, the Morrison fans are more rabid or at least (and this is for SURE!) more informed and "tenacious" beings he had a "second MAJOR spark of genuine innovation and creativity" from around '79 through '81 which most may regard as a whole other significant (if not quite so "popular") rebirth, or at least considerable re-invention. Of course jazz and soul (not to mention "quasi-Celtic") music was the underlying theme. Certainly there's no more "serious" so-called singer, as he's at least "able" on sax - and "talented" on harp - and of course pretty damn capable on an acoustic guitar - playing all these regularly and ably, off/on up to today, for what, 50 years? He's self-referenced as a singer but EVERYBODY knows he's "a musicians' musician." None have had broader "influence" on (though often as "inspiration" proper, since he's virtually inimitable) serious musicians outside Dylan/Beatles/Stones. I don't think it's obscene at all to call him "the white Otis Redding or Ray Charles" and historians are increasingly recognizing this.
    He is, of course, quite the "opposite" of the Beach Boys, and having read your bio snippet that might account. 300+ compositions into it, however, I'd say Van has eclipsed many a major, major artist. Almost all of them, in fact.

  2. Yeah I know I have a bit of a blind spot with Van the man. I love his 60s stuff with Them - he had one of the best voices of that generation - and I like his early solo albums too. I saw him play a kind of jazzy set with Georgie Fame in the 90s which was pretty impressive. Thanks for the tip. Will have to check out some more.

  3. May sound really weird but the most impressive (and purely instrumental) studio outtake I know of is Van's 16 minute "Caledonia Soul Music" which probably came from the Moondance sessions.
    "Caledonia Soul Music" is highly favored over even "Moondance" (of course now rather droll a la Freebird or Stairway or some such "cliche' - though great" numbers) and actually favored over 'Into the Mystic' and about any other aggregate of great tunes except perhaps 'Tupelo Honey.'
    "Caledonia Soul Music" is the MOST neglected (and brilliant) outtake - not even occurring on the "official" Warner Bros (methinks) collection of outtakes called Philosophers Stone. The philosophy/poetry namechecks sometimes come across as pretentious bullshit but it's just part of an act and Van would say so.
    "Caledonia Soul Music" - at 16 minutes - is a treasured masterpiece of brilliant mandolin, guitar, sax HEAVY BEAUTIFUL STIRRING SAX) gifted drumming and perfect piano. Virtually no singing besides some very clever lovely staccato scat when his vocal chords were sweet and not so gruff as later. We all know about (like so many) a bunch of shitty, annoying (though his case unique) adult contemporary songs into the late 80's and 90's ... like one song per album as he got past 40 was (and is) something I'd listen to - but occasionally that "one song" was pretty spectacular such as "Rough God Goes Riding"
    Van had a career highlight exactly parallel to The Stones w/ Jimmy Miller producing; he had 4 or 5 stellar albums with only sparse misfires and then he got old - and in his own way - and hindered the path sometimes - same as the Glimmer Twins though nowhere near as flamboyant or asinine as Jagger, EVER ...
    Only difference, he had a "second career" with a couple MAJOR sparks of genius for 2-3 songs on LPs '79-80 and '86 with Peewee Ellis now at sax - most are aware Peewee was the co-inventor of Funk and band leader in James Brown's act. He was brilliant then, and AGAIN brilliant for a couple years with Van. Matter of fact Ellis is quite likely what inspired Van's "second coming" at around age(s) 37-38-39 and it was again spotty but glorious (soul-singing) couple years. Couple weird (to me) jazz songs in there too of course.

    But after he hit about 40, singing both the lilting high notes and the bellowing chesty low ones became impossible.

    Honestly, Joe Cocker was ALMOST as good a singer, but with Van the emphasis was ALWAYS that sweet soul MUSIC (and heavy blues and R&B of course).

    1. Yeah. It was with Peewee Ellis that I saw him in the mid 90s. Great band with Georgie Fame. Van was kind of taciturn. Didn't say much.

    If Van's growling howling (or beautiful falsetto in early years e.g. on "Crazy Love") melismatic and introspective "stylized" singing annoys or gets in the way - it's a little like (abstractly) Dylan in that the "soul" is THERE but for some (even myself) a step back and then a respite for a month or year and then a return to his music - yields luxury and more intricate and organized complexity than upon first listenings.
    At a young age, I think 19, had listened to Astral Weeks probably two or three times before I had any idea what the hell was going on.
    Then around 22-23 matured emotionally, Astral Weeks became quite lovely and really all of Van's first half-decade of post-Them material opened up like an overstuffed jewelry box. His Veedon Fleece album at around age 31 or maybe 32 was the last (and almost spotty) instance of some consistently refined (not gruff) singing and especially "Comfort You" in particular was about the end of his occasional Motown/Tamla inspired singing comparable in theory to Marvin Gaye or Solomon Burke (the latter whom he obviously idolized for good reason) at least vocally intricate and showcasing a (albeit somewhat iconic or slightly obtuse) "genius" if that's the right word. Everything pretty much connects on an emotional rather than technical level with Van and that can be a PITA for some (tho rarely for me if the material was up to task - as years rolled by it became glaringly evident it often wasn't anymore.) "Artistic" singing was almost completely sacrificed in later years.
    I always believed those that love Ray Charles Atlantic sides immediately and powerfully gravitate to Van's glory days (late 60's early 70's) as I have.
    Most else is unpredictable. But if you remove Van's singing, he's had mostly spectacular musicians and dearly special arrangements when the song was up to snuff. It's almost exactly (in theory and somewhat in practice) the same arrangement as the Stones heyday: two horns (sax & trumpet) plus guitar and rhythm section. Of course the Stones doubled the guitar beings that's their emphasis, where with Van its often in the horns esp. incredible sax (though one maybe kinda has to hunt around for the shear sax genius but it IS woven in there.)

    I think inevitably Solomon Burke and Bobby Bland are closer in spirit to the important Morrison tunes than much of anything else; I really like those two, so Van fits nicely my ears/brain. In fact, I've a feeling soul music (and blues) might color my affection for Van in nearly every respect. What I can't endure is sometimes later in a career a formerly talented R&B type singer doing consecutive New Age and/or Adult Contemporary type shit with a slightly plastic "spiritual" tinge of blase'
    "Oh woe is me but I'm confident my travails were guiding me to the new light."
    I'm perfectly OK if that's the case - but need we hear about it?

  5. "Everything pretty much connects on an emotional rather than technical level with Van..."
    Yeah. For me that's true of all music really. At times the technique can get in the way. Like Miles Davis said to John McLaughlin "Play like you don't know how to play." It's the raw emotion of it. How it hits you that counts. That's "soul"
    Thanks for this Jo. I will see if I can find the piece you mention.