Album Review: OG Garage A Trois' Calm Down Cologne
Words By Kevin Hahn (Split Open & Shoot Photography)
The rule of three is often used in literature to describe a group of characters who are more humorous, satisfying, or meld better together than the rest of the supporting cast. In music, we refer to this concept as a “Power Trio” or a group that consists usually of a guitar, bass, and drum kit. Cream w/Clapton, Baker, and Bruce immediately comes to mind. Garage A Trois, a group formed to be part of New Orleans' legendary Jazzfest late-show festivities in 1998 could be one of the more unique and funky power trio’s still going in our jam scene today.
Anchored by Galactic’s Stanton Moore on the kit, the ever-evolving and incredibly talented saxophonist Skerik, and last but not least the truly one-of-a-kind Charlie Hunter on both bass and guitar. Garage A Trois has blessed us with a new release Calm Down Cologne 23 long years after their initial coming together at that fateful late night Jazzfest party. This release gets back to the roots of what makes Garage such a funky/unique commodity, and gives way for each member to show off their respective skills masterfully.
Going back to the original lineup formed in 1998 (Mike Dillon on vibraphone and Marco Benevento on keys have also been members), Calm Down Cologne is a beautiful collection of Moore’s fast paced/almost brutal force type of drumming, Skerik’s ability to make the saxophone sound like it has a life of its own, and Hunter’s just filthy combined bass/guitar licks. Hunter has a trademark Hybrid Big6 instrument that allows him to play both instruments simultaneously. Put all three together, and you have one of the more sought after/legendary power trios of our current jam scene. Each member has their own solo careers, numerous bands plus projects and all sorts of other responsibilities, but the synergy they have when playing together can be felt throughout this release.
“No Zone” plays off Moore’s NOLA style of marching band like drum progressions, while incorporating some spacey interplay between Skerik and Hunter. “In-A-Pro-Pro” highlights the funky basslines from Hunter tied perfectly into a set of analog keyboard sounds Skerik also has access to when he isn't blowing us away on his sax. “The Epic” takes us on a Skerik filled horn journey with him leading the melody for most of the song, but Moore and Hunter providing a pure combined sound behind him. Lastly, the title track “Calm Down Cologne” sounds like something you would hear walking down Bourbon Street from one of the numerous music venues lining the historical block. The tune is fast paced, has a great drum-centered rhythm about it, and truly is a dance party just waiting to happen.
All in all, we are lucky as fans to have bands like Garage A Trois making somewhat of a “comeback” and gracing us with new music when they have so many other projects to work on. It is also fantastic to see the “OG GAT” back together, even though I wouldn’t mind hearing Marco overlay some ridiculous keyboard/piano progressions on the album selfishly! Do not miss these guys if they end up touring behind this release (Denver was lucky enough to get a couple shows at The 1up Colfax a few years back) and if you have to go to Jazzfest to see them; lucky you.