Sipe and Coffin astound in Charlotte

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Jeff Sipe and Jeff Coffin
The Double Door Inn
Charlotte, North Carolina
March 21, 2008

The best of Good Friday was held at the Double Door Inn in Charlotte as saxophonist Jeff Coffin, of the Grammy winning Flecktones, and genius drummer Jeff “Apt.Q-258” Sipe joined forces as a part of Coffin’s Mu’tet series to deliver a performance that was as laid back in form as it was uncomplicated in style and enjoyment.  The seemingly simplistic duo accomplished an enjoyable evening for artists and bar-crawlers alike.

jcjs-3.jpg Incognito Mosquito, a jam band with a take on dueling drums, opened the show: kit vs. ethnic percussion.  Their bassist, Chad Thompson, played solidly in the pocket through their set with ease and creativity.  The band laid down a vibrant blanket for Sipe and Coffin to settle down on when they took the stage.

Without introduction, Sipe led the first tune with an even stream of beats ringing from his snare and hi-hat as Coffin chose an Eastern, metal, side-blown recorder to play a trilling, rolling line.  Up and down, he meandered the diatonic instrument with an entrancing repetition, before giving pause to highlight Sipe’s rim tapping interlude, and picking up his alto sax.  The same lines were imitated in the louder, more raucous and reedy sound of the sax before Coffin broke out into more Parker-esque running licks.

Coffin and Sipe enjoyed quite a bit of informed call and response through the show, trading two and fours without discussion or organization, but with a marked flow of ease and familiarity.    

jcjs-4.jpgCoffin picked up his flute for the second tune, with key slapping, flutter tonguing and a breathy, open tone typical of a saxophone player.

The pleasant surprise came later in the set when Coffin displayed more lyrical sensitivity in his lines than you usually hear from a doubler.  The difference is a musician with a true interest in the instrument as a lyrical tool, rather than a tool of invention and embellishment. His wide collection of whistles and recorders proved his interest.

jcjs-5.jpg Mid-set, Sipe led the base with a haunting beat on oversized a-go-go bells and a gourd shaker, drawing lines on the cymbals with the butt of his mallets, rousing a mysterious Eastern mood as Coffin joined on a thin reed recorder. Sipe extending his technique to thumb rolls on the toms, and intermittently bringing in the hat as the Far Eastern groove evolved to a walking beat. Meanwhile Coffin debates the choice of alto or tenor sax, he starts with the tenor and in a few bars time favored the crowd to twin saxes, harmonizing himself to the excited buzz of their patrons.

For the next hour Coffin’s saxophones tore the air of the crowded, intimate venue, moving from the traditional, predictable line of improve to outside effects that tore at your ears like a screaming woman.  From expert mic technique, moving the bell of the horn over the head of the mic to create lingering echo effects, to vocal harmonization through the horn, Coffin gave an education in extensions.  Sipe’s complimentary rhythms and groove made a conversation between friends and artists that made eavesdropping unavoidable.

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