The exquisite instrumental music played by keyboardist Andrey Novikov, guitarist Jake Pashkin, bassist Damien Langkamer, and drummer Gaetano di Giacomo is a sublime jazz/funk performed with the perfect touch. Not to be confused with the American group – also called Green Tea – which disbanded in September of 2014, the U.K. Green Tea adds a spacey vibration to its eclectic and moody musical presentation, track 5, “Red Baron,” a good case in point off of the CD Live at Elixr’s.
The band seems to be big on John Scofield, former guitarist with Andy Pratt (way back in the early 1970s) opening with Scofield’s “A Go Go” from his 1997/98 album of the same name (A Go Go, track 1) and closing with “Green Tea” – the 7th track from that disc, and clearly where the group found their name. The musicianship is most faithful, Green Tea (the band) giving a lighter version of Scofield though, at times, with cutting instrumental work carving out their own identity. It’s that ebb and flow from smooth to brittle that seems to define Green Tea’s version of the music they like.
“Cantaloupe Island’ changes gears, from Steely Dan-styled keyboards to heavily influenced-by-Hendrix guitar. Where Herbie Hancock’s original from the 1964-ish album Empyrean Isles sounds more like the Doors gone jazz (before the Doors ever put a note to record,) Green Tea take Hancock and bring him into the world of the artists noted above. Azymuth’s classic and sampled-many-times “Dear Limmertz” is delicious here, Green Tea providing ethereal partitions in their space/rock cum jazz flourishes.
The 5 minute 29 second rendition of “Sunny” blasts into the song with dexterity, an uptempo drive which flows from a dancing keyboard solo by Andrey Novikov into (via segue) drummer Gaetano di Giocomo’s vision, giving us 41 seconds of improvisation from 3:16 to 3:57 in the middle of Bobby Hebb’s classic, Guitarist Jake Pashkin has style and passion, the sound from his axe reminiscent of Greg Howe’s “Sunny” that has permeated YouTube.
Green Tea’s “Sunny” is a welcome addition to the Bobby Hebb collection of “Sunny” covers and worth of your attention.
BOBBY HEBB’S ‘SUNNY’ ON FROM GREEN TEA U.K.’s CD Live at Elixir
A Go Go 8:08
The Scratch 5:52
Cantaloupe Island 8:09
Red Baron 5:44
Take 5 6:45
Dear Limmertz 8:17
Green Tea 6:31
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.