The String Cheese Incident

On the Road: 04-12-02 Chicago, IL

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The three-CD set features the first of a two-night stand in the Windy City coming off a smoking gig in Omaha. The band came out swinging with a host of originals that included a wonderfully knotty "Restless Wind" that moved, slipping, sliding, and thudding into "100 Year Flood." Both tunes were written by guitarist Bill Nershi and feature his deft and often subtle flourishes before working their way up to frenzy mode. After a brief pause, they shift gears and jump full steam into keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth's "Parker's Blues" that becomes, by turns, a deep funkified groover before keeping it to the song-wise side of the fence with "High on a Mountain" and taking out disc one with "These Waves." The real story of this show is told on this disc, however, where String Cheese Incident are joined onstage by the horn section and percussionists from Latin bad-ass music men Ozomatli. The set opens with perhaps the finest ever recorded version of Nershi's "Sing a New Song" and then "San Jose," which crosses South African township jive melodies and rhythms with Cuban son forms and merengue and deep-crease funkiness. the horns become an extension of the already-voluminous rhythm section and turn the tunes -- three different melodies -- inside out on each other. Ozomatli hangs out to rap and jam for an "Ozo Jam," with groovalicious funk-rock from SCI and a return to "San Jose" for another eight minutes before leaving the audience in tatters -- with half a set to go. As if this weren't enough, SCI moves from groove to groove with a killer cover of the Talking Heads' "This Must Be the Place" that gives way to the "Wisdom Jam," Keith Moseley's wonderful "Joyful Sound," and Kyle Hollingsworth's "Bam!" Anyone who ever accused jam bands of no rhythm or backbone-slipping groove will have to eat their hat after hearing this disc. The final CD in the package begins and ends with real highlight: Peter Rowan's "Panama Red," which is an SCI staple these days, and finishes with Bob Dylan's spectral celebratory classic "Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)." This is an amazing show and one of the very best in the 19-package collection; it will as well become identified as a classic SCI recording.

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