The Wu-Tang Clan legend GZA kicked off the first of his four-show stand at The Blue Note on a below-freezing Tuesday night (March 29th) in the Village. The packed house was treated to a run-through of his well-known jams and new verses as The Genius deftly flowed around the historic venue.
It was a family affair as the Phunky Nomads provided the live backing and were led by energizing drummer Ramsey Jones (who is GZA’s Cousin and ODB’s older brother) along with keyboard/violinist Phearnone “Shayshahn” MacPhearson, bassist Djibril Toure and keyboardist Entrfied, had the jazz club bopping via an instrumental opening which touched on the classic “Apache” before the kung-fu samples eerily seeped out. The Genius arrived onstage and never let up beginning with “Duel of the Iron Mic” he focused the majority of the set on his 1995 stone-cold classic album, Liquid Swords.
“Living In The World Today” got a smooth and slinky run-through while “Cold World” floated along with warbling keyboards before the crushing deep bass bombs dropped. The quartet kept flowing without pause on “Labels” which delivered huge swells and violin fills before a brief dip into the haunting “4th Chamber”. GZA finally took a breather and dedicated “Shadowboxing” to Method Man, as he rhymed his verse as well as GZA’s own.
The show shifted off of Liquid Swords with the crowd supporting rhymes on “Clan in da Front” and the high-energy joint “Crash Your Crew”. The outfit slowed it down temporarily for “Animal Planet” as the violins and bass fronted the sounds before the full band, propelled by Jones drumming, got truly swinging on “Reunited”. While GZA was in strong form all set, he ramped up his delivery for a freestyle on modern-day ills adding a special closing verse to “C.R.E.A.M” leaving the audience awed.
The set ended with a trio of bangers as a fun-loving Ol’ Dirty Bastard tribute kicked it off with “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” followed by an all-out scorching version of “Triumph”. GZA closed the night with a bit of storytelling, recalling how he recorded “Liquid Swords” with the RZA back in the day, bringing the evening full circle with grace and power.