~Meniscus Archives~

Premier Issue No. 1
August 14, 2003 - November 14, 2004

Link to Issue #1 Home


The Star Said...
Emlyn Lewis

Dear Mr. Tax Man

Invigorating Shake
Photo Essay on Peace
Bicentennial Aries
Jon Heinrich
Stranger in Alaska
Ryan Collins

The End of Main Street
Wesley Ratko

The Fur Trapper
Evan Bynum
Travels with Dad
Sarah Edrich
Long's Peak Winter Solo
Aron Ralston
Las Vegas
Jon Heinrich
Film Review: Secretary
Josh Seifert
Your Basic Mindf***: A Review of Wayne Krantz' Latest, Your Basic Live
Brian Gagne
Interview with Silent Treatment
Chrystie Hopkins
Independence of Common Humanity
Daniel Stevens
September in Chicago
Derek Meier
Father Time was a Bastard
Dan Boudreau
Wispers of the Mind
Dan Boudreau
2 Haikus
Laura R. Prince
Sarah Edrich
Pete Pidgeon
Meniscus Premier Launch Party
Zeitgeist Gallery
Cambridge, Massachusetts
August 14, 2003
Metro Saturdays hosts
Meniscus Portland Launch
Sky Bar @ The Roxy
Portland, Maine
August 30, 2003
State of the Art
Lounge Ten
Boston, Massachussets
October 23, 2003


Your Basic Mindf***:
A Review of Wayne Krantz' latest, Your Basic Live

Brian Gagne
Published 8/01/03


With his most recent release, Krantz and his band-mates, bassist Tim Lefebvre and drummer Keith Carlock, embrace the notion of scuba diving the ocean of improvised groove. These men are striving for uncharted depths of sonic interplay that more often than not go unexplored. One will hear less of the shredding solos of a guitar demigod, but rather a fearless commitment to the calculated risk of improvisation pushed to extreme heights of bombast. Your Basic Live achieves levels of energy, complexity, and neck-snapping whimsy that make it one of the most unique, rocking jazz recordings of the past year.

For most readers, the name Wayne Krantz will not ring any bells. His projects have been low profile, his recordings slip far under the blips and quibbles of pop culture, and he does not release his records on any label, corporate or indie. His last three discs, Your Basic Live (2002), Greenwich Mean (1999), and Two-Drink Minimum (1996), were recorded live at the intimate 55 Bar in New York City’s East Village. The music was captured in stark low-fidelity with a minidisk recorder and a microphone hung from the ceiling. His disks are sold exclusively at shows and on his website. Currently, he only plays dates at the 55 Bar and jazz festivals in Europe.

Biographically speaking, Wayne Krantz was born in Corvallis, Oregon. A product of Berklee College of Music in Boston in the late seventies, Krantz first substantial gig was in composer/pianist Carla Bley's band. He has done stints with such luminaries as Leni Stern, Michael Brecker, Billy Cobham, and, most recently, Steely Dan. His current trio, however, is a beast of his own design.

Listening to the Wayne Krantz discography, one gets a good sense of the journey his music has taken, and how Your Basic Live is a culmination of years of dedication to the creative process of group improvisation. His previous record, Greenwich Mean, is a mix of fully realized compositions and snippets of engaging improvisation. There's less of the shredding guitar solos and composed mayhem of 1996’s Two Drink Minimum and more reliance on group interplay. In Greenwich Mean, one also starts to hear greater use of analog gadgetry such as delay, wah-wah, and ring modulation.

Your Basic Live picks up where Greenwich Mean leaves off. There are no snippets here. Each musical journey is depicted in its entirety, with a vast majority of the material being improvised. Where the jams on Greenwich Mean are often taught and funky, here there is a unique ambience. Weight is given to the decay of notes, and is highlighted by the aforementioned use of delay, reverb, and ring modulation. As musical thoughts are intoned and reverberate, they clash, causing microcosmic tension and release. The result is an intensely three-dimensional music that churns and edifies in its downhill path. This is intelligent, visceral, demanding music that defies genre placement.

These are all masterful musicians. Bassist Tim Lefebvre upends classic funk riffs with intelligence and aplomb. Though not overly subtle in tone, he delicately and tastefully employs chords and effects that wrap their way through the sonic tapestry. Drummer Keith Carlock is cathartic throughout. “Four-on-the-floor” backbeats and explosive polyrhythmic tirades are utilized with commensurate enthusiasm and surety. Krantz is a seasoned talent. His sound is tied tightly to his bright Strat tone and unrelenting, searching exploration. Note choices are confident, informed, and inspired. Further, each musician is propulsively rhythmic. An unrelenting G-force quality is given to each musical excursion that perpetually moves it forward towards a perceived crash and burn that never happens.

In searching for comparisons, one might invoke electric-era Miles Davis for its churning whimsy and sonic accoutrements. One hears 70’s fusion in Krantz’s guitar work, and a heavy funk presence in LeFebvre’s bass work. Energy permeates the music, and is bolstered by the raw, “present-in-room” nature of the recording. As an aside, being in the room for one of Krantz’s shows at the 55 Bar is a phenomenal experience. Krantz plays with an extremely calm, composed demeanor that suits his mastery. In contrast, Carlock looks intent on beating his drums past the point of death.

The realization arises, however, that it matters not how the musicians flail, but how the music moves. Your Basic Live represents this ideal extremely well, with its utilitarian packaging, do-it-yourself recording process and sales plan, and enclosed plea to not dub the disk for your buddy, because of concern for the musician’s livelihood. Musically, it’s an enlightening study in the power capabilities of a guitar trio, and also shows some of the interesting avenues group improvisation of this variety can travel, musically and sonically. And as if that’s not enough, there are few doing anything like it.

-Brian Gagne


Meniscus Magazine © 2003. All material is property of respective artists.