ED VOLKER’S QUINTET NARCOSIS
SUNDAY, APRIL 24—LAGNIAPPE STAGE, 2:35 P.M.
Ed Volker introduced his post-Radiators project Trio Mollusc at Jazz Fest a few years back. The band’s wild concatenations ranged from “Tipitina,” “You’re Gonna Need Somebody On Your Bond” and a version of Gram Parsons’ “You Don’t Miss Your Water” played as Jelly Roll Morton might have, to a clave “Hit the Road Jack” and a shout-along rendition of “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey.” Using scraps from history and his own songs in fantastic constructs, Volker was working on a building, setting out the blueprints with Michael Skinkus crafting the rhythm patterns on percussion and Joe Cabral handling the artistic iterations of masonry on his baritone sax, which he can manipulate to sound like a half-dozen different instruments.
In an intimate setting that recalled Jazz Fest past, when you could walk right up to the stage, Volker broke the lyrics down to short two and three- word phrases that he delivered as rhythmic fragments that reframed the songs. Eddie Bo’s “Tell It Like It Is” morphed into “Subterranean Homesick Blues” then on down to the “Smoking Hole” before crawling over to “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” which magically built to the final climax on “Big Chief”/”Red Dress”/”House of the Rising Sun.”
This year Volker has taken the trio to a whole ‘nother dimension, fittingly dubbed Quintet Narcosis.
“This will be the fifth year I’ve had the privilege of playing Lagniappe,” says Volker. “Every other year I’ve featured the three-piece, Trio Mollusc. On Thanksgiving 2015, I featured a five-piece group comprised of the Trio members, aided and abetted by Rene Coman on bass and Camile Baudoin on guitar. On that occasion I dubbed the group Wiggle Room. I was both happy with the quintet’s performance and intrigued by the possibilities of further explorations with these guys. When I was approached in December 2015 about an engagement at the 2016 Jazz Fest, I immediately thought of the quintet. I’d felt the Trio had reached a certain turning point with our 2015 Lagniappe appearance and I was ready to set things in motion for a change, some sort of devolutionary dodge. On the Thanksgiving gig, I ranged through many years of my various compositions and derangements. Though I haven’t settled on an exact set list yet for the upcoming Fest set, some of the things we played on Thanksgiving will be featured. As far as the name of the group goes, Wiggle Room was okay, but I wanted to give it a more formal, scientific name, knowing the group would likely venture into places science would dare not go. Thus, we now have Quintet Narcosis.”
If you’re looking for the “Gone World,” this should be the place.