In the ’90s, two of the best albums to come out of Greater Cincinnati were by The PsychoAcoustic Orchestra, a progressive ensemble based in Jazz but unafraid of exploring any number of other stylistic enclaves. Formed by pianist, composer and arranger Patrick Kelly in 1990, the adventurous group released Supreme Thing in 1994, followed by Reactivation in 1996.
While the band didn’t exactly disappear — Kelly has kept the orchestra together for occasional live appearances — this week The PsychoAcoustic Orchestra celebrates its first full-length album in 20 years. Fun With Notes will be fêted during Sunday’s day-long Jazz Sunday show at Urban Artifact (1660 Blue Rock St., Northside, artifactbeer.com). The free event begins at 3 p.m. and will feature performances by Animal Mother, Adanya Stephens Quartet and Washington, D.C.’s Billy Wolfe Group. The PsychoAcoustic Orchestra is slated to perform at 8 p.m.
Fun With Notes is another extraordinary entry into the orchestra’s flawless discography. Kelly deserves a lot of the credit for the album’s success — his arrangement skills have always been the hallmark of the group’s albums; he’s one of the best in the biz — but he has a dozen phenomenal top-shelf musicians to thank for the dazzling execution of those arrangements. All of the players in the “big band” have extensive experience, many of them grads or faculty of the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music or members of the beloved Blue Wisp Big Band.
The opening title track swings with insistency and sticks firmly to the ensemble’s Jazz roots, but by the following track, “Shades,” things begin to open up, as a Funk bass line and more atmospheric sounds provide the foundation for the other members to slinkily lay some great horn charts over top. The album moves like this throughout — just as you get comfortable with a relatively straightforward (but still compelling) Jazz composition, in comes something like the emotive, remarkably dynamic “Nebulous,” the swinging Blues of “The Blues That Never Ends” or the Latin groove of “La Ofrenda.” The closing track is one Kelly pulled from the archives. “Ornette” is an attention-grabbing freeform piece (named after the late Mr. Coleman, whose influence can be heard) recorded during sessions for the soundtrack of the 2002 nationally distributed film Artworks (all but one of the eight musicians on the session are still PsychoAcoustic Orchestra members).
Fun With Notes reaffirms that The PsychoAcoustic Orchestra is still one of the region’s best groups, regardless of genre, and that Kelly is a Jazz master who deserves much wider attention from the Jazz world as a whole. And the impeccable chops on display are further testament to the incredible Jazz talent here in Greater Cincinnati. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait another 20 years for a follow-up.
Visit patkellymusic.com for more info.
The Fests Keep Coming
• Stanley’s Pub (323 Stanley Ave., Columbia Tusculum, facebook.com/stanleys.pub) presents its 15th-annual Stanley’s Summer Music Fest this week, kicking things off Thursday with a special show by Jerry Garcia cohort Melvin Seals and Terrapin Flyer. Showtime is 10 p.m. and tickets are $20. On Friday and Saturday, music begins at 6 p.m., starring mostly local acts. On Friday, catch Strange Mechanics, Spookfloaters, Jerry’s Little Band and SolEcho. Saturday’s lineup has Glostik Willy, Ernie Johnson From Detroit, Subterranean and The Grove. Tickets for Friday and Saturday’s shows are $12. You can purchase multi-day tickets in advance at cincyticket.com.
• The Broken Spoke Festival is a new two-day event that will showcase BMX and other biking activities and fun, as well as loads of solid local music. Presented by the nonprofit Riding Forward, the event is being held Saturday and Sunday at England-Idlewild Park (5550 Idlewild Road, Burlington, Ky.). Music begins Saturday at 2 p.m. and features Friday Giants, The Mighty, Undertipper, Alone at 3AM and 500 Miles to Memphis. Sunday’s lineup includes Young Heirlooms, Arlo McKinley, Wonky Tonk and Banjo Murman. For full info on everything the fest has to offer, visit brokenspokefestival.com.
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: [email protected]