November 21, 2013
Glasslands offered up a diverse trio of musical acts last Thursday. Wanting to check out Kris Bowers, the up and coming jazz pianist, got me to grab a ticket, but all three performances I caught that night were unique and engaging.
First up was a dirty crooner from NYC named Ian Isiah. Like countless singers before him, he cut his teeth singing in church, but he's clearly no choirboy. His set, backed by a full band & two strong female vocalists, was brimming with ribald lyrics and herb references. The recordings posted to his SoundCloud don't capture his infectious energy or the talents of his backing band. In person, he was a lot of fun.
Julia Easterlin was next on the bill. Ms. Easterlin is a one woman band, equally talented at creating loops and singing. Looking adorable in a little black dress, she earned fans, including yours truly, with a solid performance of originals and covers. She even busted out a harp at the end for her closing song, which she dedicated to her sister. Julia's bio (posted to her site) is quite impressive. From climbing in the Himalayas to collaborating with performers in Cuba to performing at a TED Conference, she clearly keeps it moving. At this point though she calls New York City home. In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not too big a fan of the recordings she has posted to her SoundCloud, but like the performer before her, she sounded great in the flesh.
Kris Bowers was the headliner and his set showed why. This young cat can play. It's no wonder the buzz about him continues to grow in the jazz world. Backed by a stellar group of musicians, he made the filthy pit that is Glasslands feel a whole lot classier. Thelonious Monk, Lonnie Liston Smith, and Donny Hathaway are all kind of rolled up in his style. It's heady, but with a heart. It's challenging, but accessible. It can get loud and fast or slow to a simmer. Seriously, Kris Bowers is no joke. Turns out he and Julia are friends, so she came out to join them on a few numbers. A highlight was when they joined forces to cover "Toxic" from Britney Spears and turned it into a sultry number fitting of a burlesque show. Julia sounded fantastic and Kris put down one of his best solos of the night. The whole set was strong from start to finish. If you get a chance to see Kris live, I recommend you grab a ticket.