REVIEW: Kevin O'Neal/Tricky Dilemma @ The MMAC, Bloomfield, NJ 6/27/09

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(l to r): Val Jeanty, Marvin Sewell, Bruce Mack, Kevin O'Neal

Photo and review by Earl Douglas

On a night that was described by Bruce Mack as 'Duke Ellington meets Frank Zappa', Kevin O'Neal (accompanied by Patrice Quinn) and tribal electro trio Tricky Dilemma, played the The Multi-Media Arts Center in Bloomfield, New Jersey. 
 
The MMAC, as its called, is a facilty that has a concert hall, a cabaret space that can also be used to show films, a cafe for all of you coffee drinkers, art gallery, and broadcast capabilites.  Its still in work in progress, but has the potential to being the new home for the experimental, avant garde and the mainstream all at the same time.  Its location is also perfectly for those in the Jersey/Philly area who want to remain in the state but also for those in New York City who want to get removed from city craziness for the night.

I managed to make through commuter hell (MAJOR delays on PATH train) to catch the talil end of Kevin O' Neal's set.  Best known for his work in the seminal Black Rock band The Bus Boys, O'Neal performed a beautifully understated set on piano with the beautiful and talented Patrice on vocals.  'Dedication' was a moving, wordless piece that went out to Michael Jakckson (and  MMAC owner, Chuck Brownley).  A significant jazz & blues influence was the thread on a stunning run of standards including 'I Loves You Porgy' and a great new song, 'Expectation' ended the set that literally had everyone, performers included, dancing in the aisles.  I was really bummed that I didn't catch the entire set, but I'm looking forward to hearing new recordings from Kevin & Patrice.

I've always been drawn to Tricky Dilemma as a concept, but never seen them live.  I love their CD, 'John P. Parker: Viewed From 9 Dimensions' (I listened to it on my way over to The MMAC) so I was really excited to see what the live performance would be like.
 
I wasn't disappointed at all.  More like blown away.
 
With Bruce Mack handling all of the vocals, electronic and traditional percussion, Marvin Swell was on guitar and Val-Inc (Jeanty) dropping the beats on the turntables and electronic drums, Tricky Dilemma assaulted the senses with bop phrasings, atmosphere guitars, Eastern rhythms, spiritual cries and tribal dancing.  Clearly inspired, Kevin and Patrice joined in on a version of Money Driver was both experimental and flat out funky.  The set ended with a tribal jam of James Brown by way of Bali which included 'I Don't Want Nobody Giving Me Nothing' and 'Funky President'.  It was a truly amazing night of music that truly came from the heart and was done with a spirit of love.  Love of the craft and the love of music.
 
It's really important that we support The MMAC, Kevin O'Neal, Tricky Dilemma and everyone who is out there presenting or playing live and original music.  Now more than ever.
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