Afrocop - the Stepping Stone - Saturday, February 16, 2013

My cellphone
This is more of a quick eulogy than a formal review, especially since I left early to catch Radiation City down the street at the Tractor. I wanted to be sure, though, to stop by and soak in the last bit of radiance from the coupling of Seattle's foremost improvisational funk outfit with their quiet neighborhood home base. Afrocop ended its three-and-a-half year residency at the Stepping Stone Saturday night, citing the ownership's plans to change-up the bar's format. Though it was somewhat of an irregular happening with no hard schedule (it usually occurred on a Saturday toward the end of the month), it had become a thing that people in the area looked forward to each month, and it was the perfectly hip atmosphere. But all good things must come to an end, I suppose, as bandleader Noel Brass, Jr. told me before they went on, it was just time to "groove on." (Afrocop will continue to play elsewhere around town; check them out this coming Friday at the Blue Moon with affiliated band Screens, and Luxe Canyon, for example.)

The last hurrah was an excellent mix of nostalgic jamming and futuristic exploration, with a comfortable grouping of old friends and quiet regulars. Blade Runner ran silently on the projector screen behind the band, as they played crammed into their usual space in the back of the bar. Part Herbie Hancock groove, part Brass and Co.'s original soulgazing, they got into it right away, and dug deeper with each improvised movement. They had picked up percussionist Jayson Powell for the set, as well as guitarist Colin Higgins -- both semi-regular contributors -- and the input served them well. Having an additional musician in the mix to pitch the group ideas, and accentuate certain aspects, really adds depth. One of their best qualities as a group is their drive to push their limits as musicians. They take to funk like ambitious jazz veterans. "New territory was definitely explored" bassist Carlos Tulloss told me later that night. Indeed.

Listen to them explore some far out territory below on their recently released live album, Live at the Stepping Stone.

For me, it was on to Radiation City at the Tractor.

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