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The Dead Kenny G's bring it on

Pure punk/jazz joy



While it's difficult to define their style, it's easy to spot the trio's disdain for the smooth 'n' cheesy stuff soprano sax star Kenny G embraces. Don't request a version of Kenny G's 1999 overdubbing of Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World," unless you're up for a fistfight.

The three skillful dudes in Seattle-based punk-jazz project The Dead Kenny G's shake up songs that are already shaken up. Fluid, expressive, and technically mind-blowing, the trio's funky and aggressive blend of styles keeps them joyfully off track in their own weird way.

"This band is something we all put a lot of energy and attention into," says drummer Mike Dillon, who handles vibraphone, tabla, and odd bits of extra percussion on stage. "It's good and bad. You can lump it into the 'everything' category. It's like we have musical A.D.D. or something. We're not just a post-modern instrumental band, though."

All three G's perform together in Seattle's eclectic Afro-jazz/rock ensemble Critters Buggin. Dillon (also of Go-Go Jungle) and tenor and baritone saxophonist Skerik (also of Tuatara) played together in Garage A Trois and Les Claypool's Fancy Band. Bassist and sax player Brad Houser (formerly of Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians ... yes, that's him in the video for "What I Am" with the tie dye and the fretless Fender) splits his time between Texas and Seattle.

"It's fun ... there aren't a lot of rules with this band," Dillon says of the G's. "We don't take ourselves seriously, but we do take the music seriously. Everyone pays respect to musical traditions — whether it's James Brown or Milt Jackson — and they bring in new stuff, too.

"The punk aspect is always there," he adds. "In the middle of any song, I'm liable to start playing a punk rock beat. And when we're at our worst, we fall on our face just like any band."

Amid the chaotic looseness, there's an underlying purpose and mission within the music of the trio's new studio collection, Bewildered Herd.

"There are a few singing songs, and we get our rap on here and there, but we haven't turned away from the instrumental songs," says Dillon. "Some political event might inspire some spontaneous singing on stage at times."

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