The Revolutionary Snake Ensemble, a writhing, horn-heavy group led by the Boston-based saxophonist and composer Ken Field, dresses in feathered masks and sequined robes and covers a broad range of funk- and New Orleans-inspired music. A seasoned collection of horn and percussion players, the group, which is closing in on two decades of music-making, puts a funky spin on everything from Billy Idol to Ornette Coleman."The New Yorker
Dressed a la Mardi Gras in feathered masks and multi-colored, sequined costumes, playing music that riotously combines the rhythms of New Orleans brass bands with improvisation and heaping undercurrents of funk, the Revolutionary Snake Ensemble inhabits that rare musical planet on which Sun Ra, James Brown, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, and a myriad of New Orleans marching bands jointly reside.
They return to New York with a special line-up including trombonist Josh Roseman and drummer Kenny Wollesen with shows on May 20 at Barbes and May 22 at The Stone. The shows will be recorded so come out and be part of the celebration.
Formed in 1990 by Boston saxophonist & composer Ken Field (Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, Willie Loco Alexander, Chandler Travis Philharmonic, Bridgman/Packer Dance, Sesame St) the sound of RSE is celebratory improvisational music rooted in New Orleans brass band tradition and encompassing modern stylistic threads as diverse as the harmonic, energetic, rhythmic and visual eclecticism of the jazz avant-garde filtered through a 70s funk dynamic. By rearranging and recon-textualizing traditional tunes, pop/rock, funk and jazz compositions alongside Field's own original charts, Revolutionary Snake Ensemble celebrates, expands and transforms the brass band tradition.
(Revolutionary Snake Ensemble) captures the abandon of a street parade while expanding its stylistic scope...it's got the essential ingredients spiced with fresh flavors"jazz critic Dan Ouelette
(RSE) may operate from the traditions of New Orleans music, but the boundaries are pushed wide open when they actually play...doing all of the high art ministrations of improvisation and having an audible party at the same time really is the best of both worlds."Performer Magazine
..."booty-shaking and brain stimulating music"Splendid
Their first CD, Year of the Snake, on Innova Recordings was released in 2003. It included music by Field as well as Sun Ra, John Scofield, James Brown, and others, with liner notes written by two-time Grammy-winning New Orleans music producer Scott Billington.
The Revolutionary Snake Ensemble's 2nd release, Forked Tongue, bowed in 2008 on Cuneiform. The disc showcases a wide range of the Snakes' repertoire. It includes unique arrangements of traditional New Orleans marching music and spirituals and of music by such diverse songwriters as William Broad (aka Billy Idol), Ornette Colemen, Norman Span, and Jay Livingston & Ray Evans, as well as original material by Field.
REVOLUTIONARY SNAKE ENSEMBLE
Ken Field/alto sax
Alex Smith/electric bass
Blake Newman/acoustic bass
BARBES on FRI. MAY 20, 8pm
376 9th St. (corner of 6th Ave.) Park Slope, Brooklyn 347-422-0248
A $10 (very strongly) suggested donation
THE STONE on MAY 22, 8-9:15pm
Avenue C & 2nd Street, NYC, $10