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KCRW Presents

Kassa Overall

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Kassa Overall’s current touring ensemble consists of Kassa Overall; the Detroit native Ian Finkelstein, a student of the late Geri Allen who plays keys with Karriem Riggins, Robert Hurst, and Common; Haitian-American percussionist Bendji Allonce, son of Kompa legend Herman Nau who has worked with Ms. Lauryn Hill and Roberta Flack; Giulio Cetto Xavier, a Bay Area electric and acoustic bassist; and Tomoki Sanders (they/them), a multi-instrumentalist from Japan and New York who plays a saxophone given to them by their father, the great Pharoah Sanders. This diverse group of talented musicians has toured together throughout the US and Europe since the fall of 2021, with performances including North Sea Jazz Festival, the London Jazz Festival, Winter Jazz Fest, and an NPR Tiny Desk Concert that will premiere on April 5, 2023. BBC6 Broadcaster Gilles Peterson, after watching the band perform at the 2022 Worldwide Festival in Sete, described the band’s live show as “completely surreal”. Grammy-nominated record producer David Katznelson, who attended a show at San Francisco’s Black Cat in February of 2023, described the band’s performance on his Substack:

“Last night Overall led the band through two sets of musical alchemy, joking with the crowd between songs, while blowing minds with the ensuing performances. Both sets included a newer song called “Lava is Calm”, which takes a page from the Art Ensemble of Chicago songbook with a song structure that trenchantly breaks from a slow groove into free jazz insanity…all masterfully played by the quintet. Overall thrives in his command of the organism, conducting his band on the fly with unexpected directive arrangements that the musicians enthusiastically feed on. The pianist Ian Finkelstein showcases throughout his organic Herbie Hancock-on-loop, commanding riffs & drops—providing an epic flavor to the rhythmic-heavy sauce (the guy is a monster player), while Bendji Allonce adds ambient percussion bliss and local groover Giulio Xavier Cetto sweeps the foundation with his stand-up bass slapping. And then there is Tomoki Sanders, a budding star metamorphosizing between the smoke and dark club-light, debuting a soprano saxophone that he has just acquired, channeling his ancestors through his breaths.”

This band can be heard on Kassa Overall’s debut record on Warp Records, ANIMALS, which will be released on May 26, 2023, as well as on a live record that will be released in Fall 2023 on Third Man Records.

KCRW Presents: Kassa Overall at Zebulon on Friday, June 23. This event is 21+.


Photo by Patrick O’Brien Smith.