If you weren’t at Milestones on Friday, then you missed a hell of a showing by a band that is making a name for themselves on the east coast. Their name — “ulu.”
The band has been busily touring up and down the East Coast bringing their funk infused jazz to the masses near the Atlantic. Their head-nodding mixture of funk, jazz and rock is electric and last Friday’s showing was even stronger than their show here last semester.
Comprising ulu are Scott Chasolen on Rhodes, clavinet, organ and Moog synth, Aaron Gardner playing tenor sax and flute, Josh Dion on drums, and Brian Killeen playing bass. The guys hail from New York and New Jersey and have all been educated in various music schools.
The band powered through a double set on Friday playing non-stop from start to finish. The crowd — which more than doubled in size since I saw them last — displayed more song recognition for some of their originals.One of those originals, Monkey Fungus, starts with a tribal beat and a vocal intro that samples “fungus” to freak you out before the sax kicks in and it changes to a funky “Hancock”-like jazz riff.
They also got double points from me for covering David Bowie’s “Space Odyssey” — a great tune and a great reworking — musically extending it into a solid jam toward the end.
Gardner’s sax takes control of the main melody and his flute work is even tighter than last semester. Killeen takes a tough groove and makes it look easy, while Dion just plain plays the shit out of his 4-piece, powering through fast beats and dizzying fills.
Chasolen’s playing gives it that signature touch with quick rips on the clavinet — very superstitious — mixed with wah pedal mania and my favorite, big organ sweeps.
The band is really starting to gel together since adding Killeen and Dion, which happened before I saw them last semester. They’re touring hard and their fan base is growing.
I asked “John,” a UR senior, what he thought of the band. He screamed in reply, “I have the key to Canada.” Maybe I should have asked someone else.
Luckily I also talked to Chasolen who explained their music a little better. “ulu strives for a balance of spontaneous improvisation and intelligent composition within an instrumental groove framework. We want to feed your mind as well as your body.”
If you’re hungry for more ulu then check them out on the web at www.ulu.net where you can find out about their latest release “What’s the Deal.” ulu will be coming back to play at Milestones again on April 4 so get out to see them or I’m coming to your room to get you.
Salko can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.