Saturday, May 30, 2015

Storming on tour into the Midwest, New York's Rad Trads make their local debut at the Jazz Kitchen

 A septet of unprepossessing-looking  musical gentlemen took the stage for the late-night show Friday at the Jazz Kitchen.

They hadn't gone far into the sole set of their club debut before it became obvious the Rad Trads had blown their polite newcomer status all to scatteration.
The Rad Trads take care of business at some other gig.

They strutted, bounced, and boogied while knocking out straightforward songs in some fairly intricate (memorized) arrangements. They never forgot they were there to entertain: no long solos, no narcissistic displays of instrumental prowess. One song after another, high-octane all the way. They just brought it.

Based in New York and newly emerged from the South into the Midwest on an extensive tour, the young band quickly put a stamp  of exuberance on a range of soulful music. Their vocals, distributed mainly among three of them, were punctuated by the band's well-coordinated four horns, resting on a solid foundation of guitar, electric bass and drums.

Whether singing or playing, the members displayed an infectious rough charm. They sounded  thoroughly steeped in their material, while also not wanting to come across as too neatly honed. The material ranged from such hardy evergreens as "Makin' Whoopee" and "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" to such piping-hot originals as "Port Authority Strut" and "Rosalie."

Call-and-response vocal styles were compatibly matched with solo showcases. Subtle, staccato horn stabs were slyly placed behind the vocals on Dr. John's "Such a Night."  The spirit of Muscle Shoals as well as the New Orleans brass-band tradition consistently gave the gusto of authenticity to the two-trumpet front line, supplemented by a gritty, moaning tenor sax and a sassy, sometimes soaring trombone.

Something in the sound mix, while balanced, didn't afford much clarity to the vocals except in a few places where the instrumental texture thinned out. Otherwise, the band presented an attractive calling card to Hoosier fans of mixed-genre grooving, blossoming from deep roots.