18 November 2023


Kassa Overall was listed in the translated Leipzig jazz guide as Kash Overall and I didn't even know he was a performer, but he looked interesting when I interpreted the name. Originally form Seattle, 15 years in NYC, a Seattle return during Covid, a drummer and rapper with several albums and various features and some hot soprano and keys soloing and a line in percussion that harked back to my love of percussion-heavy afro-roots jazz of the '70s. So I got a ticket and worked out the travel and locations and arrived at UT Connevitz, an old picture theatre converted to a rough space with rear arch and phase array PA and the like. It wasn't the biggest turnout but it was welcoming for the band and the music was great, if a little less jazz than I'd expected. But this was thrumming percussion and effective soprano and key soloing and Kassa up front a few times talking of Snoop Dogg and rapping and the band moving frequently between instruments. Both sax and congas swapped at least once to drums and bass was from a Novation keyboard (the other keyboards were Nord and Moog) with the pianist and at least sax come across once to lay down a bass walk the Novation. There was one jazz cover that I recognised although, Max Roach Libra, a percussion heavy drummer's post-bop; I loved it. Otherwise 4/8/16-bar rhythm pattern changes, prominent echo on vocals, several drum pads, congas and bongos and strings of bells. This truly appeared a group effort with Kassa up front but all taking prominent roles, even leading audience actions and singalongs. Singalongs: always fun in Bach or other! As for Bach, I adored one song with a glorious melodic twist that I thought I'd heard before. I did a lyrics search and found it as Darkness in mind by Kassa Overall and played it later to Megan and it was Bach with Kassa's lyrics. That explains the melodic genius. But all the music was effective, even if not of the style/genius of Bach: busy, varying, absorbing, heavily percussive and infectious, playful at times, sometimes sung sometimes rapped, grooves or sometimes more chordal, always changing so a little unstable, quite arresting, and what lyrics I heard, thoughtful. So a great mix that pulled the crowd. They were only 100-or-so but convinced. They played one set, ~100mins, with a final song on a playful Om theme, one encore for return, plenty of hugs in the band and the merch table after. Entertaining, interesting and infectious. I got just what I was hoping for: jazz as is.

Kassa Overall (drums, vocals, rap) performed at UT Connevitz, Leipzig, with his quartet Tomoki Sanders (soprano sax, percussion, vocals), Bendji Allonce (percussion, vocals) and I missed the pianist's name.

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