OM Trio 9/21/2004: Moe’s Alley, Santa Cruz, CA

OM Trio brought their “elevator music for headbangers” to a small intimate crowd on Thursday October 21, 2004 at Moe’s Alley in Santa Cruz. Playing selections from their latest studio cd GlobalPositioningRecord and their Live cd as well as some newly written material, the band wowed the audience with their unique mix of musical styles. (Think Medeski, Martin& Wood only funkier and more hard rock.)

Brian Felix on keys has a jazzy edge to his style, peppered with weird synth noises and prerecorded electronica, Pete Novembre on bass is a funky machine and Ilya Stemkovsky is a hard driving drum monster. Even without a guitar in the band these three guys bring it, blending hard rock, funk and jazz into a danceable stew. Pete’s bass is a lead instrument here, and combined with Felix’s keyboard wizardry makes for a really full sound, sometimes it is hard to believe they are just a trio. Stemkovsky has to be one of the finest hard rock drummers around, though not many people know his name. Constant coast to coast touring has brought the band moderate success in the jamband world though they are far from your typical hippie band.

This two set show had many highlights for me, overall I like the way the band was able to change tempos and styles within the framework of a song, bringing it to one crescendo after another, finally ending in a satisfying climax. This was aptly demonstrated by the super groovy “Business End/German Dances” in the second set, the jazz-funk fusion of “Demarcation” and old favorites “Broken Glass” and “Phobophobe”, both which can be found on their Live disc. OM Trio consistently proves they can choose any style of music and make it their own.

The encore, called by longtime friend of the band and manager, Brian Glick, was the Guns N’Roses anthem “Paradise City”. OM starts this one out in a slow sweet jazzy mode, building to a rocking frenzy and ending with a super fast speed metal finish. The audience sang along on the chorus as Axl was not in the house! This tune was also complimented by an unique whistle solo by Stemkovsky.

OM Trio provides a welcomed change in the usual jamband fare, a jazz trio who can really jam. I am surprised these guys haven’t been discovered by a big jazz label. Maybe that will change when OM goes into the studio next year to record a new cd of originals. Until then, this is one band that is meant to be enjoyed live!


Set 1; Broken Glass, Phobophobe, Privy, For Your Life, Gleam

Set 2; Anew, Demarcation*, Business End/German Dances, Medley, Dust Up

Encore: Paradise City**

* with Brian Glick on percussion and vocals

** Ilya whistle solo

For more info see

word and photos by Susan J. Weiand

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