The Groove Seeker: Garage a Trois’ Power Patriot

On a weekly basis, The Groove Seeker goes in search of killer grooves across rock, funk, hip hop, soul, electronic music, jazz, fusion, and more.

Garage a Trois: Power Patriot

Garage a Trois: Power Patriot (The Royal Potato Family, 10/26/09)

Garage a Trois: “Rescue Spreaders”
[audio:|titles=Garage a Trois: “Rescue Spreaders”]

Garage a Trois is the improvised groove child of saxophonist Skerik, drummer Stanton Moore, and 8-string guitarist Charlie Hunter.  The trio made a grand debut in 1999 with Mysteryfunk, a raw EP of completely improvised recordings, foregoing interest in post-production effects and multi-tracking.  In 2002, percussionist and vibraphonist Mike Dillon was added to the mix, giving the group a new tonal texture, and the band began rooting its music in powerful repetitions à la Critters Buggin, Skerik and Dillon’s former band. The departure of Hunter in 2007 led to a temporary void that was filled by rotating musicians, most notably John Medeski.  Soon after, jam keyboardist Marco Benevento was chosen to permanently fill Hunter’s place.

Power Patriot is Garage a Trois’ first release since the addition of Benevento.  It strongly reflects the band’s current configuration — particularly, the role that Benevento plays, often as both the bass line (with his left hand) and the wild, distorted organ solo (with his right).  Though not as funk driven as past records Emphasizer (2003) or Outre Mer (2005), Patriot Power has a groove unto its own, and it’s heavier than the older material – again, thanks for Benevento’s organ sounds as well as the band’s small army of effects pedals.

So distorted as to mistake it for an electric guitar, the organ is a bridge that connects what otherwise could be a straight funk track to something more raucous and genre bending.  The album’s opening numbers, “Rescue Spreaders” and “Fragile,” were arranged by Benevento and are easily two of the more brash and progressive-rock-influenced songs on the album.

Dillon’s vibraphone, meanwhile, makes a more profound impact on the quartet’s melodic core.  His interplay with Benevento is a great new dynamic, best exemplified on “Dory’s Day Out,” a tune arranged by Dillon where the vibes and keys form a sugary pop harmony.

The commanding sax lines of Skerik complete the album, but the oddball virtuoso plays a more restrained role on Power Patriot.  Whereas on previous album he might run wild over a song’s foundation, his lead work here is limited to a few short solos, keeping to weighty, Funkadelic-style riffs.

The album is a fusion of each musician’s unique abilities, and because of this, Moore shines by effectively holding together what is the band’s most dissonant album to date.  His technical skills keep Power Patriot engaging, while his heavy fills help it achieve hard-hitting grooves.

Ultimately, Power Patriot demonstrates collaboration, cohesiveness, and the understanding of each member’s role, as the players challenge themselves as well as one another.  The result is innovative arrangements with a big sound, and Power Patriot exposes the quartet’s hyper-compositional side.

Leave a Comment