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Music Preview: Real Silk Band celebrates live release

Friday, November 28, 2003

By Nate Guidry, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Back in the mid-'80s, in the heyday of the old Balcony, one of the hottest fusion bands in town was Rodney McCoy & Silk.

It paired the leader's silky violin playing with the hard-edged guitar work of Larry Estes and the powerful rhythm section of bassist Arnold Stagger and drummer Jeff Montgomery.

 
 
THE REAL SILK BAND
WHERE: Crawford Grill on the Square.

WHEN: 9 tonight.

INFORMATION: 412-281-2885.

   
 

These days McCoy is leading Deep Pockets and Stagger is heading the Real Silk Band, which performs tonight at the Crawford Grill on the Square.

The group also features drummer Brian Edwards, vocalist Valerie Jones, steel drummer Victor Provost, saxophonist Curtis Johnson, trumpeter James Moore and pianist Tom Glovier.

The band will be celebrating the release of "Live at James Street," a new recording that touches on a melange of different styles, including jazz, R&B and Latin music.

"There's no boundaries to what we do," said bandleader Stagger. "We do funk, Brazilian and Caribbean. We also like to acknowledge players that have come before. We listen to everything and we draw inspiration from everywhere."

In 1999, the group received the Harry S. Schwab Excellence in Jazz Music award and recorded its first release, "Metamorphosis." The award recognized artists who weren't afraid to take creative risks.

"Metamorphosis" featured tunes such as Larry Graham's "One in a Million You," Gladys Knight's "Neither One of Us" and "Betcha By Golly Wow," which the band dedicated to the late Pittsburgh vocalist Phyllis Hyman.

But Stagger feels that "Live at James Street" effectively captures the group's artistic and aesthetic growth. Part of that growth can be attributed to the group adding a trumpet and steel drum player for additional voicing and orchestration.

"Rhythmically there's nothing we can't do," says Stagger. "There's a lot of musical trust among the members of the band. When we go on stage, it's always different, and the ship never sinks.

"You can play a tune that you have been playing a very long time and never get bored with it because you know the band is going to give it a fresh reading."

And the band will treat the audience to "La Casa de Fiesta," "Morning Star" and other readings from "Live at James Street" tonight.


Nate Guidry can be reached at nguidry@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3865.

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