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Gizmo's Release Party at Drom

Marc Rosenfeld Antunes
Staff Writer
mra337@nyu.edu / @mcrantunes

Talented bassist and vocalist Gizmo performed at a CD release party for his new album, Red Balloon (Revive Music), on the 2nd of October at Drom in the East Village in New York City. Making a great jazz album is often about your connections, and Gizmo is successful in showcasing some great talent on this album, including Jamire Williams and Casey Benjamin. The release party began with a performance by Joy Daniels, an exciting new neo-soul act, followed by a performance by the smooth beats of Nick Hakim, good friend of Gizmo’s, also featured on the album.

Those acts had been fairly cool and got the heads in the audience bobbing up and down. The beats were heavy, but smooth. The melodies were heartfelt. The vocals were soulful. That atmosphere prepared the audience for something slightly more schizophrenic: Gizmo’s first piece jumped straight into something alternating from the smooth and easy to the intense and heavy. It was a rush to the head.

In a way, this characterized the rest of the show. One piece would be slow, with some beautiful comping on bass, with spoken word. The next piece would be loud and full of energy. Casey Benjamin, who was performing with Gizmo during just this one show, was a notable contributor to this schizophrenia. His voice, processed through a vocoder has, on many instances, served as a compliment to a smooth backing (for example, “Smells like Teen Spirit” on Glasper’s Black Radio), but his saxophone has so often been a catalyst for excitement.

The show was energetic, but it should also be noted that the production (Derrick Hodge) of the album was brilliant, since it was able to capture that volatile essence of the music and transform it into something central, something valuable. The music was all over the place, but larger than life. That is what jazz is all about.

Marc Antunes is a student, writer, and critic. Follow him on Twitter.