The Motet shows off style at River City

Music review

Gorge Games week ended on an “Americubafrican” note Sunday when Boulder, Colo.-based funk/jazz/percussion band, The Motet, treated the locals to an astounding three-hour set at the River City Saloon.

Fresh off weekend shows at the Mt. Tabor Theater in Portland and the WOW Hall in Eugene, this distinctively funky group of musical innovators kept Hood River groovin’ until dawn — much as it has during tour visits over the past four years.

“These guys have been playing here for years,” said River City promotions manager and bartender Shawn Robarts. “It’s one of those nights I always look forward to working.”

Just when you thought you’d heard it all before, this six-piece ensemble combines elements of Chicago and New Orleans funk, West African drum rhythms and Latin jazz that are both soothing and energizing, all the while reminding you that fresh, progressive music still exists.

Stunningly creative, wildly unpredictable and just as instrumentally together as the DGQ (although the David Grisman Quintet falls into a much different genre), The Motet explores various musical styles, while still maintaining a consistent melody that keeps the crowd kickin’ up dust and clamoring for more.

Setting the stage is Dave Watts on the drum kit. Having played with such accomplished artists as Keller Williams, Shockra and Tony Furtado, he and fellow percussionist Scott Messersmith — a New Orleans-based drummer who incorporates Cuban, West African and Brazilian styles — combine to develop a solid foundation.

Also contributing elements of Cuban and West African drumming is vocalist/front man Jans Ingber, whose voice is so compelling that he was hand-picked by jazz great Charlie Hunter. Adding a bluesy slide guitar element to The Motet’s music is Mike Tiernan, who works closely with bassist Paul McDaniel to deliver a unique brand of hard-hitting jazz/funk fusion.

Rounding out the band’s lineup is keyboardist/organist Greg Raymond. With influences ranging from Herbie Hancock to Jimmy Smith to Doctor John, Raymond often brings the band to new musical peaks — which was definitely the case during Sunday’s second set.

What it all boils down to for the music fan is that these guys can play. They’re not out there to make a million bucks (yet), they just like playing together and making the music world a more “fun-kay” place in which to live.

One reviewer said, “If ever there was a group assembled to defy musical boundaries, challenge musical categories and harvest endless world influences while simultaneously sending its audiences into oblivion, it’s The Motet.”

That about sums it up. Most people who attended Sunday’s show at River City discovered a state of musical oblivion. But, with any luck, no one disappeared into that oblivion because it’s only a matter of time before The Motet graces the Gorge again with its Americubafrican stylings.

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