“Captures the abandon of a street parade while expanding its stylistic scope … it’s got the essential ingredients spiced with fresh flavors.” — Dan Ouellette, jazz columnist for Billboard, contributing editor to Stereophile, longtime Downbeat contributor
When asked: “how do you explain how a group from Cambridge got into the New Orleans brass band tradition,” the answer shows just how far RSE has traveled musically.
The upcoming Plough gig is intended to work as a rehearsal before the band heads to New Orleans to take part in, among other festivities, the Krewe of Muses Mardi Gras parade on Feb. 19.
Saxophonist Ken Field’s group – which performs in Mardi Gras-style costumes and masks – plays a mishmash of jazz, funk, and New Orleans second-line street music. Everything is fair game; their latest album, Forked Tongue, runs the gamut from the traditional Just a Closer Walk to Billy Idol’s White Wedding.
Here’s my list in alphabetical (not numerical) order.
“The album is GREAT! [It] touches all the right cornerstones of jazz, but also funks my socks off.” — Kyle Press
RSE’s album starts with the slinkiest and sassiest version of the gospel chestnut ‘Just a Closer Walk’ ever heard
“If the wailing vigil of Down By the Riverside doesn’t rake your spine, chances are you don’t have one…It’s quite possibly the most convincing treatment of New Orleans by a non-native since Hugh Masakela’s Goin’ Back to New Orleans…If [Field]’s not re-arranging some holy chestnut, he’s dreaming up freaky, wind-jamming floor monsters like The Large S.” — Brendon Griffin
“A quirky, idiosyncratic band capable of both partying and intellectual discourse…A formidable slew of potent originals…The Revolutionary Snake Ensemble has taken danceable music to both earthy and progressive levels.” — Michael Nastos
“RSE is a gloriously humorous and creative group that makes great music” — Jay Collins
“Unlike most modernisations of supposedly ‘traditional’ concepts, this one has an informing logic that carries it through, and by the time you get to Minor Vee and Under the Skin, both written by saxophonist/leader Ken Field, you’re a voodoo convert.”— Brian Morton
“I can’t stop playing this crazy CD over and over again. Doctor, is there an antidote? I am having visions of Mardi Gras parties out of control. They call it a brass band, but there must be some voodoo in this music.”— Ted Gioia
“I dig it quite a bit and think [they’ve] hit on something quite original in the world of jazz and beyond.”— Kory Cook
What do Billy Idol, Ornette Coleman and Doris Day have in common? One thing at least: They’re all fodder for the creative madness of the Revolutionary Snake Ensemble (RSE).
En su fructífera trayectoria artística, el saxofonista, flautista, percusionista y compositor Ken Field se ha manifestado con similar idoneidad en diversos contextos musicales.