Monday, July 28, 2008

Fear of a Flat Planet

Fareed Haque and Flat Planet Band @ The Green Mill, Chicago, IL
July 25, 2008

Fareed Haque: guitars
Willerm Delisfort: keyboards
Alex Austin: bass
Subrata Bhattacharya: tabla
Ernie Adams: drums

The Green Mill has a long, colorful history spanning the days when Al Jolsen headlined there, its days as a mobster hangout (Al Capone's henchman "Machinegun" Jack McGurn was once a stakeholder), its days as a speakeasy to its days when Frank Sinatra patronized the establishment.  

With its lovingly restored art deco interior, today's visitor of The Green Mill Cocktail Lounge is met outside the front door by Al the bouncer.  After collecting the evening's cover, Al makes sure cell phones are turned off and every patron understands that talking ceases once the music starts.  

On this particular occasion, the silenced audience was treated to the phenomenal chops and creative fusion of Fareed Haque's Flat Planet Band.  The attentive silence allowed the funky, east-meets-west arrangements to wash over with rehearsed polish.  The intertwined rhythms of Subrata Bhattacharya's tablas with Ernie Adam's battery of drums provided a sturdy architecture for Haque's deft, melodically focused compositions.  With spare use of effects pedals to shape and alter the harmonic timbre of his hollow body electric guitar, Haque brought an ear for tone to compliment his creative arrangements and rock solid sense of time.  

Early in the first set, Fareed's young son worked his way to the front of the room and expressed a joy and pride this music inspires.  "That's my dad!" followed by spontaneous dance with a sense of time almost as solid as found on stage.  "He's really good!"  Yes he is.  The heady mix of world influences with layers of high standards of musicianship manages to be as direct as the familial enthusiasm so purely expressed.

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