Kneebody_span3
July/August 2005

Kneebody
Kneebody

The members of Kneebody have collectively logged hours with such a range of artists-from Ani DiFranco to David Murray to Jurassic 5-that it's tempting to write them off as another multi-hyphenate in jazz's crossover era. But eclecticism isn't the point of their music, which sounds too convincingly effortless to be a self-conscious fusion. In fact, their debut on Dave Douglas' new label reinforces just how meaningless the F-word has become.

Kneebody bolts out of the gate with "Break Me," a fuzz-tone funk tune by trumpeter Shane Endsley that twists through a quick succession of formal convolutions. This immediately establishes the band's rhythmic prowess: Bassist Kaveh Rastegar, keyboardist Adam Benjamin and drummer Nate Wood establish a pocket and hold it tight, no matter what else happens in a tune. And that's saying a lot, considering that the band's originals rarely seek the comfort of a straightforward groove. This is especially true of those by Endsley and tenor saxophonist Ben Wendel-like a stutter-stepping "Coat Rack" and a Return to Forever-inspired "Never Remember."

The full impact of Kneebody is in the ensemble. Their cohesive poise is what sells this experiment, which will hopefully yield another record soon.

Originally published in July/August 2005
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