Eugene Weekly : Music : 3.27.08

Get Swanky with the Greyboy Allstars
Accessible acid jazz artists keep it classy without losing the passion

It’s the best you can hope for when a band you love breaks up: That someday, years later, they might get back together. And for fans of The Greyboy Allstars, that time has come. After 10 years of separation, the San Diego-based Greyboy Allstars got back together to recreate the funky boogaloo jazz that brought them to the brink of success before the band dissolved

After releasing their first album, West Coast Boogaloo, DJ Greyboy, the DJ who inspired the original band, decided that the touring life wasn’t for him. The Allstars carried on without the Greyboy, keeping his name; however, the band members went their separate ways after releasing their 1997 album A Town Called Earth and completing a gig composing the score for the film The Zero Effect. For guitarist Elgin Park (under his real name, Michael Andrews), the soundtrack project got him work producing the scores for independent crossover films Me And You And Everyone We Know and Donnie Darko — including the haunting cover of “Mad World” that became a number one hit in the U.K. After releasing a live album in 1999, the band members spent the following eight years concentrating on other solo and group projects before reconnecting with each other to make a new album.

The new record, What Happened to Television?, was collectively written and recorded live by saxophonist Karl Denson, keyboardist Robert Walter, bassist Chris Stillwell, guitarist Elgin Park and drummer Aaron Redfield in one week without any computer editing whatsoever. The record is the first to contain an appearance from the band’s namesake, DJ Greyboy, since West Coast Boogaloo. On Television, the Greyboy Allstars perform classy boogaloo jazz suitable for lounging or dancing, but it’s the furthest thing from the sterile elevator jazz that irritates more than it entertains.

Avoiding the pitfalls of the overly-technical stuff that’s inaccessible to all but the most trained ears, the Greyboy Allstars incorporate complex jazz rhythms and lengthy instrumental solos without boring or alienating the non-musicians in the audience. The songwriting is both intricate and accessible, and the strong blues and soul influences infuse the music with the passion that jazz, in spite of all the precision and technique it demands, sometimes lacks. In other words, The Greyboy Allstars are an excellent introduction for the jazz-hater in your life: This is music created by artists who are as talented with their instruments as they are at songwriting and composition.    

The Greyboy Allstars, Busdriver. 8 pm Saturday, March 29. McDonald Theatre • $20 adv., $25 door