Pushing the musical envelope
By Joy Michiel
If you’ve come across music that you just couldn’t quite put a finger on, yet your body can’t help but move, groove and flow with its tantalizing beats and rhythms, chances are you’re hearing and experiencing the music of The Motet. To define this group as a jam band falls short of the dynamic sound and experience they bring to a live performance. With a mix of jazz, funk, reggae and hard-driving Afrobeat, The Motet delivers a funky melodic electrified dance experience to a diverse group of loyal fans.
Founded and led by drummer Dave Watts, the group began in 1998 and hasn’t let up since. Featuring complex compositions written and arranged by Watts, the music tells a story through syncopated rhythms and melodies. Taking a cue from the numerous genres, the various members of The Motet provide an explosion of talent, with energetic improvisation. Their resolve to evolve has kept audiences on their toes as they splice their dynamic funk grooves with overlays of electronic beats. The combination of Watts’ classical music training at Berklee College in Boston and the inspiration sparked by his overseas travels have created the ideal chemistry to spawn something great. Plus, because Watts is at the helm, there is the added bonus of the drummer’s perspective.
The Motet undeniably knows how to kick butt and its music is full-bodied offering eclectic tastes from everywhere, fusing together the Latin with the funk, the new break beats with the experimental sax-laden jazz. The rhythms are spontaneous and textured and the beats are hard driving and, while their influences are easily recognized, their overall sound defies categorization. As music and technology evolve at an astounding rate, so, too, has The Motet pioneered their unique sound. With roots in jazz, Afrobeat, funk, salsa and samba, The Motet keeps its audiences in a dancing frenzy by layering house and techno rhythms into a style that is uniquely their own. There is no use analyzing the sound and trying to classify them.
Whatever one decides to call them, this group does what it does with ferocity. With a complete rhythm and horn section backing the keyboard, bass and lead guitars, the band is a dynamic and expressive improvisational force and they are committed to exploring and pushing the sonic envelope, while still remaining dedicated to the musical traditions that have defined their sound.
One of the most important facets to any act is the interaction with their audience and this is where this band excels. The electronic aspects feature smooth, well-thought out synth lines and improvised jams with a housey feel that undeniably gets people moving. With the variety of instrumentation they keep the sound cohesive and it is apparent that the members have a solid musical relationship. They are able to improvise, keeping each show fresh while maintaining a tight sound that gets the crowd going. The audience is a part of their party as they consistently convey that the music also is incredibly fun to perform.
The Motet has a true grasp and understanding of how to keep up with the progression of music while still keeping a tight hold on originality. And, for that, we’re all enormously thankful.
The Motet plays the Crystal Bay Club’s Crown Room on Friday, Oct. 25, at 9 p.m. For more information, call (775) 833-6333. For more information on The Motet, visit themotet.net.
Friday, Oct. 25 | 9 p.m. | $15 advance/$18 day of show | 21 & older | Crystal Bay Club | Crystal Bay, Nev.