Earlier this year, a new music project called Octave Cat formed, a jazz-trace trio featuring keyboardist Eli Winderman of Dopapod, bassist Jesse Miller of Lotus, and Charlie Patierno, drummer for Mike Taylor.
So far, they’ve released a self-titled album and played only a small handful of shows at various spots around the country. This past Wednesday night, they brought the project to a packed crowd at Hartford, Connecticut’s Arch Street Tavern, for what was an impressive and very well-received night of feel-good instrumental music.
Opening up with the combo originals of “Tit Tat” into “Contact High,” Octave Cat lit up the night, and the crowd with tight and energized playing from the start. Winderman dazzled immediately with some strong soloing, and it was clear to all that was a very inspiring and fun outfit for the Dopapod keyboardist to be a part of. In this group, his improv work both holds up his end of the funk, but also adds a wonderfully dreamy quality to a number of the band’s songs.
Another pairing of originals, “Limber Up,” launched out of a gusto to segue into a much grittier original, “Spar,” where Miller’s bass playing took off running on a heavy-rock sprint.
Octave Cat recalls the essence of Medeski, Martin and Wood in a modern age. While that might be a lofty comparison, there’s an undeniable influence in sound and feel: a gooey, buttery blending of rhythm and melody, in which drummer, bassist and keyboardist are in constant crunchy motion with awesome fills between all the spaces of their already sophisticated, funky material.
This was all played with the digital sounds and energies of a today’s livetronica persuasion. Miller has a bunch of tech toys and is fitting beside Winderman’s signature moog-screech sound drummer Patierno’s trance-driving beats.
In addition to their full LP of material, the band worked a couple of very neat covers into their sets. The band started with a smooth instrumental version of Tame Impala’s “Less I Know, The Better,” and followed up with a fantastic take on Vulfpeck’s “Barbara,” which had the already grooving mob of bar patrons reeling with joy.
For their encore, the trio invited Turkuaz’s Craig Brodhead to join on guitar for one more original, “Intl Klein,” a quick-tempoed, bluesy-funk number that saw some great chemistry. Brodhead took his moment to throw down on the mix with some charged soloing, before all four players finished by trading off solos and licks back and forth.
Article and photos by Miles Hurley