Band Review: Reorchestra

Check out Reorchestra at ‘Oasis' on Oct. 13th from 5:30pm to 8:00pm, and at ‘The Last Day Saloon' on Oct. 23rd at 8:00pm. Cover is usually $5. I highly recommend them for those looking to enjoy themselves at a place where the eclectic sounds of jazz and funk converge into pure spirit.





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At the swanky North Berkeley restaurant Cafe De La Paz brews a funky jazz mixture of nighttime sounds so electric oftentimes the waiters drop their duties to join in the revelry. This emerging sound emanates from none other than the local band Reorchestra.

Headed by a man who calls himself Matt Berkeley, they have transformed the nightlife of Berkeley into a swirling mixture of Afro-Cuban rhythms, and jazz funk. Matt plays the keyboard with sudden urgency. It is great to watch him perform live. He envelops himself into the music so thoroughly, that at certain peak moments his leg shoots out from under the keyboard and there he is playing on one cheek, and pounding out ferocious exclamations within the pocket. When asked what he does for inspiration, he replied, "I watch baseball, especially the A's. And I teach piano to students."

Their music is a conversation between instruments. A loud and boisterous conversation. Mike Abraham on guitar; Noah Enelow (enrolled in Extension classes at UC Berkeley) on saxophone; Aaron Germain on bass; Brad Hayami manning the wheels of steel; Jeff Neilson (a student at UC Berkeley) on drums; Micha Patri on congas, timabales and whistle. They listen to each other, and produce music that is quite personal. Yet, it, like all good music, spills out from the musical piece and splashes onto the crowd, at once intoxicating them and charging them with a rhythmic energy-compulsion... move your damned tired form and dance. The crowd often complies.

Reorchestra's dance-crazy piece, "Samba, Samba, Samba!" never fails to inspire steps from even the most dance-challenged individuals. The crowd roars and whoops after every song, creating a semblance of the famed give and take call-back of early jazz bands. At one show Reorchestra, for an encore, played an improv piece straight from their subconscious.

Reorchestra has been playing for a while at Cafe De La Paz. And every time I go, the place is brimming with all sorts of people. The random hipster, spiked hair and cuffed jeans with a chain tied to his wallet. The occasional couple who come for the Spanish cuisine and can't help but stay for the phenomenal entertainment. The aging Phish fan, complete with long beard and requisite t-shirt to boot, tapping his feet to the bass rhythm. The

smattering of college students from UCB, sophisticated, yet so open and inclined to dance the night away.

It isn't easy to categorize their music. Often times as I listen to their songs, I can hear bits and pieces of different artists. At one moment, Matt played a synth wash in time with the bass that instantly reminded me of Parliament when Bootsy Collins slapped the bass. The complex beats of Jeff's drumming often have me remembering "Tain" Watts from Ellis Marsalis' group. Noah rips solos with his sax. Like hummingbird wings buzzing about he hits sweet high notes that reach even Gabriel's ears. Mike is a virtuoso on guitar. His fingering dizzy and wash one over with a storm of notes that whiz past and sweep around one's head. Aaron bespeaks notes that are quirky and stiff, yet hang in the air like sudden impressions of inspiration. A touch of conga here, a splash of timbal there, the backbone of the passionate dancing that occurs. Between sets, Brad spins hiphop from masters like Q-tip and Tu-Pac; the perfect interlude.

At their recent gig, they played Wayne Shorter's tune "Paraphanilia," an abstract number that is almost experimental in its variation, yet still carries a subtle melody that skips in-between notes fluidly. They also played a dark afro-cuban groove called "Wait and See" which twitched with echoing keys and a thumping bass line. An accompanying timbale rip half-way through the song added the requisite flavor to wake the Cuban spirit of Yambu which imbued the second half of the song with a haunting melancholic sound. With songs like these, and an incredible range of talent Reorchestra looks to have a large following.

Reorchestra is a band that walks backward into the past, while looking forward to the future.

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