New York instrumental quartet Schleigho is in good company in blurring the lines between jazz/fusion and rock -- venerable acts like the Allman Brothers, King Crimson, and Yes have all dabbled in that blend, to varying degrees, for more than 30 years. So it isn't surprising that original Allman Brothers drummer Butch Trucks would sign Schleigho to his Flying Frog record label, plus donate the services of two members of his Frogwings side band for Schleigho's 2001 CD, Live at Ho-Down 2000. Keyboardist/flutist Kofi Burbridge plays a flute solo and youthful slide guitar specialist Derek Trucks adds some well-placed accents in the 19-minute opener, "Go Children Slow." But keyboardist Jesse Gibbon steals the spotlight from the guest stars, blending Headhunters-era Herbie Hancock's funk and John Medeski's psychedelia. Multi-instrumental guitarist Suke Cerulo's own flute solo punctuates "Continent," the title track from Schleigho's latest studio CD (and at 12 minutes, easily the CD's shortest song). Bassist Paco Mahone replaced Matt Rubano on the Continent tour, and brings a versatile mix of electric and acoustic styles to the table. On the Live at Ho-Down 2000 26-minute centerpiece "Matrices," he and drummer Erik Egol consistently push Gibbon and Cerulo to the ropes, only to have them bounce back for more improvised exchanges. On Wayne Shorter's closing "Witch Hunt," Mahone plays jazzy acoustic upright lines as guest saxophonist Joshua Smith accepts the challenge of interpreting the parts of the legendary jazz composer and player. Cerulo's clean guitar tones and Gibbon's Chick Corea-like Fender Rhodes electric piano make for an exciting 15-minute finale. Live at Ho-Down 2000 documents Schleigho's sixth and last annual Ho-Down festival at Wendell State Forest in Wendell, MA. A sign of greater things to come for this so-called "jam band," it's not because of rioting there, personnel problems, or a rift between the band and the park. The series of Ho-Down festivals simply got so popular that Schleigho had to find a larger site for its 2001 edition.
Live at Ho-Down 2000 Review
by Bill Meredith