Groove On with Thousands of One
Last Updated (Monday, 29 November 1999 19:00) Written by Mike Levy - Buzz Entertainment Guide Wednesday, 13 July 2005 22:31
Friday of last year's Grassroots Festival in the Cabaret Hall... For what was billed as Steppers Lounge, those in attendance were treated to three great feats of rhythm: Elliot Martin's Black Castle, local soul and funk band JSAN and the Analogue Sons, and a three-hour marathon by Thousands of One that refused to end until the birds began to sing their own songs, ushering out one day and chiming in the next. Just one year later, Thousands of One is poised to return to the festival having played dozens of local shows, refined their sound and dedicated themselves to taking the music and their positive spirit as far as they will go.
Thousands of One grew out of a weekly jam at the Rongovian Embassy in Trumansburg. The jam, called Steppers Lounge, started out as a reggae show and slowly mutated into a soul-inspired jam with a rotating company of players. Eventually, the cast became more regular, and a band was formed: Jhakeem Haltom on vocals, flute and percussion, Brent Eva on bass, Joel Blizzard on drums, and Regan Carver on sax.
"Then we added the icing on the cake in Tom Sayers," says Blizzard, who describes the guitarist and keyboardist as "a great arranger and atmospheric player... like a father figure in this band."
Since many of the group's earliest material grew out of jams, deep grooves are the backbone of Thousands of One, and the players are adept at creating an atmosphere and still leaving room for each other, musically speaking. Haltom is a charismatic presense whose apparent comfort on stage as well as his vocal range, have been captivating.
This past winter and spring, it was not performing, but the recording process, that helped the band to refine their musical direction. Blizzard credits producer Elliot Martin, singer for John Brown's Body, with helping the band move in the right direction.
"Elliot really went all out to create a narrative texture that makes the transition from 'live sound' to 'studio sound' very exciting," says Blizzard. "We did what we like to do and then Elliot did what he likes to do and the result is like our live show, but with an invisible samurai who keeps pushing the 808 button with dead-on precision."
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