“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiently...who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly” - Theodore Roosevelt
Daring greatly is exactly what The Puppeteers; Jaime Affoumado, Arturo O'Farrill, Alex Blake and Bill Ware, did on March 20th at Birdland. One could not help but be intoxicated by the pure joy these four men exuded. Their music is personal, new and beholden to no one.
They opened their show with a bang, playing Alex Blake's “On the Spot”. Bill Ware's love affair with the vibraphone sang out as he danced down his keyboard. His contagious joy cast a spell that lasted until well after he left the stage. The ensemble as a whole has incredible energy while maintaining professional tightness. Energetic soli moments were balanced with subtle musical conversation, underscoring their connection. Bassist Alex Blake ascended to his own plane when he added manic scat to his already energetic solos on the upright.
On their fourth number, the band showed off their softer side. The mood of Alex Blake's “A Peaceful Moment” was magical. Arturo O'Farrill provided a sweet, wandering piano solo with a strong but laid-back spine in Blake's bass. Bill Ware provided amazing bent sounds, causing the audience to wonder where those foreign and beautiful tones had come from. The whole mood of the piece was like wandering down a spring lane in a fairytale. The whole number recaptured the band's energy into a new warmth and caress. This band is no one-trick-pony.
Ware introduced their fifth song as “a rock and roll tune” indicating that his girlfriend had said he could only play it if he said it was dedicated to her. Very sweet. Jaime Affoumando was on fire, creating sounds you wouldn't expect, rising off his seat with the manic energy the audience had come to expect throughout the set.
Brave and victorious are the best words for performance of these incredibly creative individuals. Not just talent, but talent that dares greatly. This is a rare thing indeed. Check out their new eponymous album and learn more on Itunes, cduniverse.com and puppetsrecords.com.