When Lo Faber, frontman and principal songwriter for God Street Wine, needs a keyboardist, he hightails it to Sea Cliff to grab Jason Crosby.
But he’d better take a number. The 25-year-old Crosby has been getting more action than the Viagra bottle in Bob Dole’s medicine chest. He’s preparing to back Lana Cantrell at Carnegie Hall Sept. 23. He’ll be touring with God Street Wine and appearing with Faber for a series of acoustic duo shows in Manhattan this fall. And he’ll also appear on new CDs by Pozzy Ghuru and the Sean Grace Band.
“It was great when Jason joined the band because we didn’t have to teach him any of the songs,” Faber says. “It didn’t get annoying until he started teaching us the songs that we had forgotten.”
Beneath a purple sky in Glen Cove’s Morgan Park late last month, Crosby gathered many of the acts he plays with and kept a few hundred onlookers transfixed throughout the most eclectic music feast of the summer. For three-plus hours, Crosby, clad in all black, called up acts in rapid-fire succession, moving effortlessly between a grand piano, an electric violin and his electric keys.
He opened the show with classical numbers, including Chopin’s “Ballade in G Minor” on piano. He backed lyric soprano Angela Ford on some Mozart before shifting into jazz mode for Duke Ellington’s “A Night in Tunisia” with former Zen Trickster Dave Diamond on drums.
Crosby proved himself one of the area’s top fiddlers with jaw-dropping virtuosity when he blasted off with the Sean Grace Band’s astral brand of Celtic rock. The Funk Philharmonic percussionist Steve Finkelstein played bohdran, then remained onstage for the rest of the show. The mood eventually shifted into coffeehouse fusion, as Steve Messina and MJ12 tore through songs with Diamond on lead guitar, Claude Rozier on tenor sax and Crosby moving between violin and keys.
The best was yet to come, as Pozzy Ghuru’s jazz-rock musings set the mood for God Street Wine’s four-song set. The uptown, neck-breaking funk of Rainbow Trout closed the show.
JASON CROSBY plays with MJ12 every Tuesday at Prohibition Jazz Lounge, 503 Columbus Ave, Manhattan, 212-579-3100 and, starting Aug 12, every Thursday at Sessions 73, 1359 First Ave, 212-517-4445. He plays with the experimental group Super Tuesday 9:30 pm Aug 31 at Mercury Lounge, 217 E Houston St, 212-260-4700.
In Freeport, Sister Carol Explains It All
HC&F Studios in Freeport is a place you’ve probably never heard of, unless you’re one of reggae’s elite. The two-story brick building with whitewashed windows sits across the street from the train station and could easily be mistaken as abandoned. But inside its maze of hi-tech, soundproof rooms, powerhouse dancehall artists like Shabba Ranks, Super Cat and Beenie Man have recorded albums. Shaggy completed his wildly popular Boombastic here, and several gold and platinum albums hang in the main mixing room as proof.
Carol East, better known as Sister Carol, one of only three women to receive a Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Album, has been recording here since 1982. Lyrically Potent, the 1996 album that nabbed the nomination, was recorded at HC&F. She also recorded and mixed her long awaited follow-up at HC&F, Isis: The Original Womb-Man, which was just released on Tuff Gong Records.
“They have a very good studio with the latest equipment and top-class engineers like Philip Smart and Michael McDonald,” says East, who lives in Jamaica, Queens, “so we keep the relationship running.”
Isis is socially conscious reggae at its finest. Peppered with potent dub and hip-hop swagger, the 40-year-old dancehall diva takes on police brutality, HIV and politics, but the album’s focus is women. “I really hope that it will bring about a change in terms of how society as a whole deals with women, especially in the reggae industry, where we’ve become almost an endangered species,” East says.
Locals-Only Radio: Only the Lonely
The demise of Erik Heuler’s Local Buzz on classic rocker WRCN leaves only two sources for extended local-music radio on the Island: Tri-State Sounds on WLIR-92.7FM, which gets the coveted Monday-at-midnight timeslot, and Jill Morrison’s Wednesday afternoon gig on WUSB-90.1FM.
Heuler, whose show was axed by the station, has joined forces with Roy Abrams at the new, online home of Abrams’ Island Zone (www.theislandzone.com), which was downsized at LIR and cancelled at WBLI.
As a leader of the Long Island Music Coalition, Morrison— whose Long Island Music Vista and The New Music Show air back-to-back from 2-5:30pm— isn’t happy about having such a big piece of the radio pie. “I think it’s a disgrace what’s going on,” she says about shows being canceled. “They have succeeded in taking local music to the bottom of the barrel.”
Richard Hughes, acting president of LIMC, says the coalition is hoping to syndicate a show hosted by Morrison that could be aired on college stations.
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This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 17, 1999