If you prefer to sit back and let a jazz set gently simmer in the background, beware of Future Dog; the band is out to change your mind and musically kick the seat right out from under you. Calling themselves “ambassadors of the neo-speakeasy,” the three gents are unconventional members of the growing jazz-funk trio revival that’s been coming out of the Santa Cruz woodworks lately. Why unconventional? Somehow electronica and rap influences have made their way into the band’s set. And, ironically, founder/bassist Brett Wiltshire says it’s all to get back to jazz’s earliest days. “Jazz originated in the party scene of a smoky speakeasy with dancing but it’s progressed into a genre where people sip wine and clap in between songs,” he says.
“We want to return it to its dance roots.” Despite starting out two years ago as a power trio favoring rock tendencies, Future Dog has found new leanings since keys maestro Peter Thom went synth crazy (he now performs with five keyboards) and a new drummer was found this summer in DJ Jeremy Bandoni. Now, drifting toward being what Wiltshire describes as “an electronic, rave-jazz collective” rather than a jam band, Future Dog can translate gangsta rap funkiness into jazz beats with synthesizers playing the vocal lines of Dr. Dre and Snoop on a few crowd favorites, while original tunes like “Glide” and “Wax” embrace a spacey club vibe through electronic manipulations, Wiltshire’s Stagg electric upright emitting low, dancey bass tones, and, now, Bandoni’s drum ‘n’ bass tastes. Planning for a dance party on Monday, Nov. 16, at The Crepe Place, the members of Future Dog aren’t jazz-trained traditionalists, but they texture new sounds to pay homage to the past and, mainly, move a crowd. “The root of our music is very simple and we’re not trying to impress technical virtuosos,” Wiltshire begins, “but people can connect to that basic beat with their body.”
INFO: 9 p.m. Monday, Nov. 16. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $7. 429-6994.
Photo Credit: Julian Dahan