It feels awfully good when a band reaffirms your faith in the jam gods and does justice to the genre—especially nowadays, when it can seem like local jazz-funk-rock bands are a dime a dozen. On May 13th, Easy Over had the Friday night crowd at Sullivan Hall feeling exactly this way. Opening for Wyllys & The New York Hustler Ensemble, featuring Jennifer Hartswick & Natalie Cressman (Trey Anastasio Band) , Zac Lasher (U-Melt) & Chris Michetti (Conspirator, RAQ), the band delivered an eclectic, high-energy set and showed off their range by playing a variety of styles with facility.
Starting off their set with “60 Words per Minute,” Easy Over had the packed dance floor up on their feet from the get-go. The tune, up-tempo and highly-electric sounding, particularly showcases how tight the band’s rhythm section is. You could hear how locked in bassist Craig Taylor was with drummer Reese Wentz and Michael Berkey on keys. With such a solid foundation, Cory Ziskind could demonstrate his maturity on guitar, pulling off the song’s sophisticated riffs.
Ziskind’s guitar skills also kicked off the band’s next tune, “Herman’s Hideaway.” This composition really shows off Easy Over’s dexterity as a group. The song veers heavily into improvisational sections (where there were a few noteworthy solos from Max Willauer, whose musicianship on alto saxophone definitely impressed me), but without losing sight of the overall skeleton and structure of the piece. “Herman’s” has a catchy theme with tones that are reminiscent of the jazz standard “So What”—the song has that certain recognizable quality to it.
The band’s Pad See Wha> Agave > Pad See Wha song sequence, which followed later on in the set, melded together the night’s setlist and was the core of the band’s performance at Sullivan. The flow through the three movements unwrapped pretty seamlessly; on full display here was Easy Over’s stamina and ability to groove. The band finished up the night with driving rendition of “Stringer Bell,” a composition that pays tribute to the best and most badass character on The Wire.
Easy Over has played gigs consistently at Sullivan Hall and other top NYC venues throughout the past year. The band is especially excited to get in touch with their funky side when they open for Big Sam’s Funky Nation and the Zigaboo Modeliste Band at the New Orleans Funk Explosion at the Hiro Ballroom on June 16th. Of the approaching show at Hiro, guitarist Cory Ziskind says that the band is “really excited to kick off an awesome night of funk music. It’s a huge honor and opportunity for us.”
Easy Over is also slated to make their first festival appearance this summer in the Poconos, at Equifunk (headlined by the New Deal and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe) on August 19th and 20th. For the remainder of the summer and going forward, the band will continue securing gigs opening for top talent, and also has plans to play a fundraiser show for Sustainable South Bronx in the fall.