Music pioneer to jam with local artists (Deerfield Valley News)
Posted 12 November 2012 - 03:16 PM
Chaine and Dix have been playing at Apres Vous for over a year in different band incarnations and as solo artists. Now Chaine feels it’s time to give back to a community that has embraced his and so many other artists’ music. Chaine saw no other avenue then inviting one of his idols to come play at the restaurant where he feels so at home. “We’ve been doing our thing for a year and a half here and really bringing the people in” said Chaine. “I thought, what can I do for these people that I love so much? What would be a cool thing to bring them?”
So Chaine, who played with Worrell once at the Bottom Line in New York City in the 1990s, sent an email to Worrell, asking him to come have a celebration of music in Wilmington. Lo and behold, Worrell agreed.
Worrell is a living legend, though he refuses to look at it that way. He came from a classically trained musical upbringing that included performing with the Washington Symphony Orchestra at the age of 10, and attending the New England Conservatory of Music. Worrell began his music career as a bandleader for Maxine Brown, and continued in that position as a founding member of Parliament Funkadelic with George Clinton. With P-Funk, Worrell radically took command of pioneering the sound of keyboards and synthesizers, expanding the use and sound of the Moog synthesizer in particular. P-Funk would record many hits co-written by Worrell including “Flashlight,” “Atomic Dog,” and “Cosmic Slop.”
“As far as developing the sound of funk, I didn’t approach it that way,” says Worrell. “They say I’m the pioneer of the Moog, and that I brought it to fruition, but I was just one of the ones selected to spread the word. I’m a player, and a bandleader and I just do what I do, trying to make people happy, and I really didn’t realize I was developing anything.”
Worrell also says that playing with P-Funk was a release from being a classically trained musician, and the regimentation that went along with it. He saw it as an opportunity to marry classical with new sounds.
Worrell didn’t just focus on funk. He took on as many opportunities as he could find, from playing on Talking Heads albums “Speaking in Tongues” and the live epic “Stop Making Sense,” to playing with Les Claypool and Buckethead in Colonel Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brains. “You have to take an instrument and play it however it fits your fancy,” said Worrell. “I have no labels, it’s just music. Each genre is just a mixture of sound, and the music industry does the labeling, and everyone who plays music comes up with their own music.”
Fiction Giants, whom Worrell will be joining, is Chaine’s band featuring a rotating cast of musicians, with a rotating ensemble of instruments. Dix, the guitarist, says the band can go from two players to seven on any night. “Sometimes there’s a horn player, there can be two guitar players, and sometimes an electronic (drum) kit. There is some improvisation involved, but all the songs at least find where to start from, and start building textures. My desire is to give more space and a more dynamic branch to the band as a whole.”
When Chaine proposed the idea, there wasn’t a moment of hesitation. Jalbert says having musicians play at his establishment was always one of his goals, and there are few opportunities that can top this one. “We’re lucky to have musical talent around us,” said Jalbert. “To me, they’re the artists, I’m not in here trying to have a certain kind of music go down, it’s more like, OK, I’ll find someone talented and let them do what they do.”
For Dix, playing with Worrell is also a way to share and appreciate a legend with his community. “We feel we’re doing something unique and special around here anyway, week to week. We just tried to think of some way to not just make it cool for us as musicians, but for other people too. We’re lucky to have the legend of Bernie, and have the opportunity to bring him and show him to another generation, and bring his musical aura here.”
Since Worrell is playing with a band he’s never met, Chaine has worked meticulously to accommodate Worrell. “I locked myself in my studio and made 48 charts for all the pieces,” said Chaine. “I have one of the keyboards he’s going to use and I went through all the sounds, wrote down all those that were interesting, and then went back to the songs and assigned the sounds to different pieces. So when I put the chart in front of Bernie, he’s got a place to start from.”
While it’s essential work for Chaine in order for the show to work, he still feels humbled by the opportunity. “I feel so presumptuous even to try suggesting to him what to do.”
The show is on Thursday, November 15, and will be broken up into two sessions, with an 8 to 10 pm show for those of all ages and a 10 to 12 pm show to follow. Each show is $25, and tickets can be purchased at Apres Vous at 19 South Main Street in Wilmington, or reserved at (802) 464-3455.
For Dix, playing with and seeing Worrell is witnessing history. “It’s a legacy that’s incredible. The thing is, our time on this planet is limited, and history will show his legacy is incredibly far-reaching.”
Read more: Deerfield Valley News - Music pioneer to jam with local artists
Posted 12 November 2012 - 07:52 PM
Posted 21 November 2012 - 06:03 PM
WOW. Haven't seen Jean Chaine in years. Is he still as incredible as he was 20+ years ago? Only bassist I've seen pull off a Claypool song as good as Claypool.
Jean is over the top incredible these days!
Posted 23 November 2012 - 06:11 PM
The lucky souls who packed into the downtown Wilmington bistro like sardines were given an education in the essence of funk, blues, jazz, and every other genre their ears could sort out of the carefully woven music of the Fiction Giants and their special guest, funk pioneer Bernie Worrell. It was impressive watching the Wilmington five-piece band work with a seemingly effortless style somewhere between tight and spacy. As one audience member said, “It’s not always about the music, it’s about where it takes you.”
On the slight chance Worrell could fit it into his high-demand schedule, Jean Chaine, leader and bassist of the Fiction Giants, asked the funk pioneer of Parliament Funkadelic fame to come play with his band of local artists. Worrell fit right in with Chaine’s style, busting out covers from Sly and the Family Stone’s “In Time,” to Miles Davis’ “Black Satin.” The band split their set between playing original funk, space-rock instrumentals, and a number of carefully selected covers.
Chaine’s style is hard to explain, but it has a way of filling up the smallest spaces, each fret of his bass getting slapped, plucked, and strummed as he struts and contorts along with whatever he plays, sweating through his shirt two songs into the first set. The high energy was there all night, even for Worrell who, at 68, has been playing since his classically-trained boyhood. Not enough can be said about the sound created by the bands’ guitarists Colby Dix and Aaron Chesley. Like any great guitar tandem, they weave their styles into each other’s frets, standing across pedal stations from each other, trading solos, and transforming the landscape of each tune.
The night was divided into two shows: 8 to 10 pm for all ages, and 10 to 12 pm for the 21-and-up crowd. While the set list didn’t stray too far for each show, it couldn’t have mattered less. The improvisational freedom given each of the band members on originals meant no song was played the same way twice. Worrell took one look at the charts written out for him by Chaine for these songs and never looked back, working between the D6 Clavinet, a keyboard, and, ah yes, the Moog synthesizer.
Each set began with an energetic blast as Chaine led his band through “Barbary Coast” by Weather Report and the bass lines of his idol Jaco Pastorius. The band continued to blaze through originals including “Two Sides, One Face,” an obvious crowd favorite, and why not. Dix, hunched over, hair hanging over his face and guitar hanging next to the floor, absolutely screamed out a solo as Worrell pumped out his indescribable layers that one could spend hours listening to. Worrell is the timeless pioneer, the developer, and the godfather of the modern keyboard sound, and for one night he was all Wilmington’s.
Peter Miles was invited on stage to sing “In Time” over Worrell’s organ, followed by two space-funk jams featuring Chesley on what Chaine refers to as the “space guitar,” pulling sounds out of the pedal station at his feet, while employing a slide on his strings. Dix and Chesley worked their guitar trance over Chaine, Worrell, and a percussion section consisting of Gary Henry on electric drum pad and Doug Raneri on a four-piece kit. The rhythm section played a consistent collection of grooves all night, building at the right moments, and taking drum spotlights when given the green light to let the crowd, as Dix explained, “feel the groove.”
The highlight of the evening was the first set encore featuring Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man,” which Worrell plays with his Bernie Worrell Orchestra. It took off, and never landed, Worrell taking an extended solo on his Moog, the band meeting him at all the stops.
Worrell brought the band into an impromptu transformation, finding a spot to tease the intro to Bill Withers “Use Me.”
The rest of the band’s eyes lit up, and in a matter of seconds they had worked out their parts, with Miles still in the house to once again belt out some soul. There’s no better example of explaining music as a language than to see a band of six guys and a guest singer put together a 10-minute soul classic in a matter of 10 seconds.
There was sheer amazement and joy in the faces of the band, watching Worrell bring the funk all over their style.
Over the rousing screams from the crowd Dix asked everyone to give it up for Worrell. “Show this man all your love, because everything this man has played is filled with joy.”
In case you missed Thursday’s show, the Fiction Giants play every Thursday night at Apres Vous, and while Bernie Worrell doesn’t join them every week, keep your fingers crossed for the future.
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