Review :: Garage delivers funk-jazz circus

Friday, June 13, 2003

Just from the name alone it would be easy to lump Garage A Trois in with the rest of the "new garage" bands of the day, such as The Hives and The Vines. Yet A Trois is anything but a garage band. It's a funk-jazz quartet of sorts, and Wednesday night it brought an electrifying stage show to Abe & Jake's Landing.

Garage A Trois is touring in support of its debut album "Emphasizer," and while the record varies from cool and mellow to hot and jumpin', the group's live show mostly stayed on the latter end of that spectrum.

At one point in the evening, saxophonist Sherik verbally envisioned for the crowd an imaginary circus taking place above stage, filled with acrobatics and tightropes. That mental picture jibed not only with the song that followed, but with the band as a whole.

Sherik can make nearly any sound imaginable with his instrument, be it spastic squealing or bending a note the way Jimi Hendrix did on guitar. He's like the circus lion, his sax quietly waiting for its big moment to roar and show off.

But it's drummer Stanton Moore (who also pounds the skins for Galactic) who really steals the show. Unlike a lot of his stick-wielding counterparts, he's more than just a backbone for the rest of the performers. Moore can groove like his life depended on it, but he also knows when not to play and let the other members have their time in the spotlight. He's like the ringmaster in a four-man circus, deftly leading the band (all dressed in matching track suits) through its set.

While it's easy to associate jazz with small, intimate, smoky clubs, Garage A Trois' exciting, electrical jazz seemed perfectly at home under the big top at Abe & Jake's.