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Brooklyn Comes Alive offers up incredible improvisations and all-star configurations in its fourth y

Photos by Andrew Blackstein

In its fourth year, Brooklyn Comes Alive once again delivered on the promise of a once-in-a-lifetime program of live music’s best players. Housing players from the worlds of funk, soul, jam, jazz, indie, and beyond, the strip Williamsburg venues played host to an enthusiastic group of concert-goers that were bursting with excitement for the twelve hour program.

Following a comedy set lead by Brett Siddell, Karina Rykman set up shop in Rough Trade with her Experiment group, and – for the first time – special guests Robert Walters and Dave Harrington. Although it was early on in the day, there was a thick crowd there to cheer on the band of (mostly) native New Yorkers. Together the quintet forged a dark, jazz-funk fusion that was totally improvisational and experimental. Harrington slapped electronic effects onto his guitar chops to create wild textures reminiscent of his work in Darkside. Robert Walters, who was a bit older than his bandmates here, found his footing with some fine Hammond work that had everyone smilin’.

As that ended, the Adam Deitch Quartet was getting started at Music Hall of Williamsburg with a set of NOLA-influenced jazz-funk that wasn’t unlike a Medeski Martin & Wood vibe. With Wil Blades on both bass and keys, Deitch layed the groundwork for his fellow Lettuce bandmates Ryan Zoidis and Eric ‘Benny’ Bloom to do their horns-with-pedals things atop the thick groove. A solid turnout made this one of the day’s highlights.

Just around the block, back at Rough Trade, a Dopapod reunion was taking place! With the original trio of Mikey Carubba, Rob Compa, & Eli Winderman in tact, laying down their Berklee-level jam-funk grooves with huge smiles on their faces, it certainly felt like a group of old friends getting together again for the first time in a minute. When bassist Chuck Jones hit the stage for a song, it elevated things that much higher, and everyone in the building was super excited to be seeing one of their favorite bands back at it again. Here’s to hoping we see more of that in 2019!

After a quick falafel break, we landed at Brooklyn Bowl for the Marc Brownstein, Borahm Lee, Alvin Ford Jr., & Khris Royal quartet, which had a spacey, hip-hop vibe that you could expect from such a group, a blend of Break Science and STS9 chillwave vibes with a propensity for hip-hop drum samples. Maurice Brown sat in on trumpet before Dave Harrington joined the group on guitar for a jam.

The Steely Dan tribute delivered high-octane versions of all your favorite classics like “Do It Again” and “Deacon Blues”. With an all-star cast of musicians from Turkuaz, Snarky Puppy, the Nth Power and more, it was another highlight in a long, amazing day! Following that we ran over to see what Cory Henry, Scott Metzger, Mononeon, Skerik, and Nikki Glaspie were cooking up. It had its moments, but ultimately fell a bit flat due to overzealous microphone work by Cory Henry. He’s a virtuosic keyboarder, but for whatever reason he’d rather rock the mic…

Brooklyn Comes Alive takes cues from Jam Cruise, another round-the-clock festival of sorts that also lures patrons with its improvisational sessions. This year, however, Jam Cruised authorized and curated the Jam Room, where bassists George Porter Jr. and Karina Rykman respectively hosted separate sessions that went from midnight until four in the morning. Anyone who has been on Cruise knows that you don’t want to miss the magic that takes place in the Jam Room, and the same rang true for the collaborations at Music Hall of Williamsburg that morning. Special stuff to end a special day!


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