A Dinner Party with Good Times and Even Better Music at Terminal 5
March 10, 2023
Dinner Party – Terminal 5 – March 9, 2023
Terminal 5 is one of those venues that can turn into a dance club or a rock club or, yes, from time to time, an unlikely jazz club, and so it was a good fit for Dinner Party, who expertly combined elements of jazz, hip-hop, soul, rock and funk for a packed house on Thursday night. After a delightful warm-up set of classic hip-hop from DJ Sahi Sundance, the audience was primed for anything and everything Dinner Party had to offer. On the one hand, the band is a legit supergroup, almost everyone in it a bona fide star on his own: Robert Glasper, Terrace Martin and Kamasi Washington, backed by Burniss Travis on bass, Justin Tyson on drums and Isaiah Sharkey on guitar, plus Sundance as well. The opening number mixed their talents perfectly, a soulful R&B with vocals by Arin Ray, a Washington saxophone solo sounding like a heavy pour of syrup on a tall stack of pancakes. On the other hand, as evidenced by the extended banter-filled band intros, Dinner Party are just a bunch of friends playing one another’s music and having a great time in the process.
The good times just kept getting better as the set went on with everyone onstage getting time to show off his talents. A new single, “Insane,” featured a hypnotic keyboard solo from Glasper and melted into an extended bass solo by Travis, a bit of low-key beauty accompanied by starry disco-ball ambiance. This turned into an extended piece that skipped from cosmic hip-hop meets jazz fusion into a full what if Weather Report, but in 2023? jam, Sunshine interjecting sci-fi zaps, leading into a Sharkey guitar shred-down. It was already four jams in one by the time Washington took center stage and thrilled with a psychedelic journey of a solo, layers of improvised melody that seemed to spin the disco ball out of sheer groove. Whether it was extended improvisation or silly goofing around between songs, the band was completely relaxed and in no rush whatsoever.
“Need U Still” featured livetronica beats from Tyson and Travis juxtaposed with a jazz piano exploration from Glasper. You could close your eyes and zero your ears in on the piano and might just be able to envision yourself in a downtown jazz club, move to the bass and drums and the party has moved to an underground dance club. Martin’s “Drones” was a straight funk banger and for “First Responders,” Bilal joined on vocals, channeling Marvin Gaye as the band went hypersexy. Washington’s “Final Thought” featured a blazer sax solo from Martin and then an epic slow build from Washington with multiple narratives, quotes and teases, transforming into a delectable boogaloo before igniting into a combustible climax, the band coaxing the audience into singing, “A love supreme” over the outro. The show ended back where it began, Ray taking soulful vocals on “Freeze Tag,” the bass finding resonance in the rafters and foundation of the room, literally vibrating the venue that had already been buzzing as a rock club, dance club and a jazz club all at once. —A. Stein | @Neddyo
Photos courtesy of Silvia Saponaro | @Silvia_Saponaro