Blasphemous Rumors

Let's just get right to it

True or false: True, says Chimeras guitarist Mark Zubia. DiNizio was in Tempe for a Sunday-through-Thursday stretch at the request of Hollywood Records to co-write material for the Tempe band's upcoming album (the Chimeras are slated to start recording in Los Angeles on November 4).

Zubia says he and DiNizio finished two songs in four days--"Somehow, Someway (It's Easy Once You Play the Game)" and "Nothing Lasts Forever." Then they cut demos of the tracks at the Gin Blossoms' Mayberry studio and sent them to the Hollywood offices for approval. "They liked them, so they will be on the record," says Zubia.

The Chimeras are also changing their name before that album is released--turns out there's a band in Ireland with dibs on the mythical creature.

"We're thinking about having a name-the-band contest, where the winner would get to be there while me mix the album or something," says Zubia. "But I don't know--I'm a little worried about who we could wind up sitting in the studio with."

311 101
"Lots of people been talkin' shit about the Junkeez lately," front man Joey Valiente told a crowd of 16,000 at the Edge Fest, where the Phunk Junkeez supported 311 in their first hometown gig after booting Valiente's longtime partner and co-MC Kirk Reznik from the band in late August. "We've just got one thing to say: It's on!"

So were the Junkeez, the band I love to hate. Valiente may be a cocky little fiend, but he can still move a crowd, and you have to give props where props are due. When the pressure was on--and for the Edge Fest show, it was on high--Valiente, DJ Roach Clip and the rest of the Phunk Junkeez did what they had to. They didn't suck without Kirk.

Roach Clip, who stepped out from behind his tables to rap Reznik's former parts, proved he could handle a mike (dare we say, his flow is even smoother than Valiente's? Yes, we do). However, the Junkeez's new, funked-up material (Reznik was kicked out of the band in part because he didn't want to go there) was received with notably less enthusiasm than the rest of its set, which was heavy on more hard-core-driven PJ standards like "Goin' Down to Buckeye," "Chuck," and the pro-female protest anthem "Devil Woman."

Jazz on la Rocas
It's hard to complain about a jazz festival set in a natural amphitheatre surrounded by red rock on a sunny fall day in Sedona, but I've got a few complaints anyway about the 15th annual Sedona Jazz on the Rocks.

First, there was Arte Johnson, master of ceremonies. A former sportscaster, General Hospital actor and Laugh-In star, Johnson provided a torturous running commentary on the minutiae of piano tuning between one set, and gave pianist Diana Krall this no-brainer introduction:

"Now please welcome Diana Krall, the pretty lady with the sunglasses, and her wonderful, marvelous trio. She makes up one of the trio."

Thanks, Arte.
Second, there was the sound. If you didn't get to the festival by nine in the morning, and most of the 5,000 ticketbuyers didn't, you were shut out of the first tier of seats, the only section to enjoy the kind of dynamic live-sound quality you should expect for a $40 ticket price. By the time the sound reached the second tier, it was thin and merely serviceable, and for the several hundred stragglers crammed onto two grass wedges back by the food booths, the music was cut in half by the occasional strong breeze.

That's weak for a festival of this stature, and an easy problem to fix with just a few remote speakers.

I know, I know. I'm a Scrooge. Maybe I was just in a bad mood because the best band of the day--Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band--came on at 10 a.m., right after the Sedona Jazz on the Rocks Youth Band (this was no fault of the festival's--the band had to drive to Phoenix and catch a plane right after the set to make a club gig in New York the same night).

Gonzalez's sextet laid aggressive jazz over intricate, serrano hot Afro-Cuban rhythms. Diana Krall was far less adventuresome, but her languid voice was a pleasure to hear. The Canadian pianist stuck close to tradition, playing mostly standards by artists like Oscar Peterson and Nat King Cole, but the highlight of her set was a from-nowhere blues jam by guitarist Russell Malone.

T.S. Monk (son of Thelonious) made a decent MC Hammer impersonator in his stylin' vest (no shirt, buff arms), black fedora and shades (to say nothing of his self-aggrandizing stage announcements), but his band put a quick end to any confusion with its inspired take on Clifford Jordan's "The Highest Mountain." Monk's usual six-piece band was bolstered for the Sedona festival by notable sax man Don Braden, whose presence more than compensated for several tepid solos by trumpet player Don Sickler.

End Notes
Two quick congrats--the first to The Headquarters for eight years in the head-shop business, and a nice little soiree at Gibson's on September 27 to celebrate the same. Fred Green headlined (oh, surprise). Those guys should think about sending Primus and the Red Hot Chili Peppers thank-you notes, but they can lay down a mighty groove.

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