Skerik’s Syncopated Taint Septet: Live at the Triple Door

Anyone who doesn’t enjoy Skerik’s Syncopated Taint Septet probably lacks a pulse. The music has everything going for it: It’s got a serious groove, yet it’s much more sophisticated than your average jam band. Solos extend but they don’t meander. And they make points: For evidence, listen to the electric-piano break toward the end of “Summer Pudding,” or the bouncing flute turn midway through “The Third Rail.”

The septet plays in many styles (funk, swing, rock) and mixes up the instrumentation as well, with Skerik on tenor saxophone; Craig Flory on baritone sax and clarinet; Hans Teuber on alto sax and flute; Dave Carter on trumpet; Steve Moore on trombone, piano, electric piano and bells; Joe Doria on Hammond B3 organ; and John Wicks on drums. Guests, too, show up for this gig in Seattle: vocalist Om Johari (who sings with the all-female AC/DC tribute group Hell’s Belles) and a string section (which meshes nicely with the septet on three tunes).

The most inspired song choice on Live at the Triple Door is the cover of Nina Simone’s “Mississippi Goddamn,” which in this band’s hands sounds like a freight train barreling down the tracks. Johari doesn’t sing it as angrily as Simone did, but she does the tune justice. The most surprising choice? “The Mystery of Man,” a ballad written by Sarah Vaughan, based on a poem by Pope John Paul II. Here the funksters slow way down, allowing themselves to be led by the string section and Johari’s sweet, lovely vocals.

Originally Published