Last Saturday I broke the ice on live music for 2016, and that ice was broken in grandiose fashion. In keeping with my role here as a reviewer of independent bands, I went down to my favourite small venue in Ottawa, the Rainbow Bistro, to catch some jazz fusion and funk. If my first show of the year is any kind of predictor for live music in 2016, this year is going to be a great one.
First up for the night was Ottawa’s jazz fusion quartet known as the Chocolate Hot Pockets. This was my first exposure to the band, and I will certainly be looking out for them in the future. Each member of the band displayed exceptional virtuosity while never being excessively showy. The band seemed fully locked in for the duration of their hour-long set. Slick full-band grooves gave way to intense building solos that took the audience for a ride. Fortunately, if you missed the show there is a way to check out their set. In the greatest of jam-band community traditions, Ottawa seems to have it’s very own concert taper, who has made his recording of the set available on archive.org.
With the room nice and warmed up, After Funk took the stage with a punch, opening their set with a melange of classic funk tunes. It didn’t take long for the floor to become a joyous dance party after frontman Yanick Allwood took his wireless microphone into the crowd with him. The rest of the set varied from dance numbers to exploratory jazz fusion pieces with some enrapturing solos from all members of the band. Some highlights included “Arabia”, a song built for roaming, “Busted”, and a few songs from their new album which I am just familiarizing myself with. I also couldn’t help but get excited by the Grateful Dead’s “The Music Never Stopped” with an extra dose of funk for the encore.
Both After Funk and The Chocolate Hot Pockets put on excellent sets at the Rainbow Bistro, don’t miss them if they are playing near you! In addition, Both of After Funk’s albums can be had for whatever price you choose over on their bandcamp page. Check em out.