Late in the night on the second Friday of New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 2019, bass alien and bandleader extraordinaire Les Claypool gathered a ruthless group of performers at the Joy Theater for a rare running of Les Claypool’s Bastard Jazz.
Scheduled to begin at 2 a.m. Friday night (technically early Saturday morning), the supergroup comprised of Claypool, frequent collaborators Mike Dillon (percussion) and Skerik (sax), and Galactic drummer Stanton Moore finally took the stage just before 3:00 a.m. for a mind-bending set of joyously deranged improvisation.
“Last night was the Delirium,” Claypool mused during the first break in the music, “And I’ve been saying tonight is the Delirious, cus it’s f*ckin late and I’m tired and I’m f*ckin delirious. You guys are all vikings of the Jazz Fest. I’m but a mere mortal, standing here with a four-string hunk of furniture strapped to me. But I’m with mighty vikings, I have mighty vikings here.”
He went on to wax philosophical about the project in his trademark sarcastic manner. “So, um, it’s the Bastard Jazz. What does it mean? What does Bastard Jazz mean? People say, ‘Les, what the hell is this Bastard Jazz?’ It’s just two words that sound really fucking cool together. And then you stick my name on there to kind of throw it off a little bit… and that’s the Bastard Jazz. Right, Skee-rik?”
Skerik’s appropriate response to the strangeness: “Somebody call my mom and tell her to pick me up right now. I don’t want to be here anymore.”
“We did a similar thing once before, and uh, Stanton was not there,” Claypool explained. “This is actually the first time, other than sitting in with Galactic over the years, that I’ve ever performed onstage with the mighty, mighty Stanton Moore here.” He went on to note how the initial plan was just to wing it, but at the last minute, he decided it was probably best to rehearse a little. However, after moments of practice earlier in the day, Claypool realized that he and Moore were “like, locked at the spine,” and the plans shifted back to winging it.
As Claypool conceded, “Basically, the whole notion of this is just throwing pasta at the walls, and hopefully a lot of it sticks. If not, you’re gonna end up with a lot of pasta in your faces and, um… that’s the Bastard Jazz.”
On this late night in New Orleans, the pasta surely stuck—on both Joy Theater walls and Jazz Fest Viking faces. Over the course of the predominantly improvised set, the supergroup mixed in takes on songs from a number of Claypool’s other projects, from “The Seven” (Primus) to “Mr. Wright” (The Claypool Lennon Delirium, featuring Delirium bandmate Sean Lennon) to a call-and-response “D’s Diner” (The Les Claypool Frog Brigade).
Now, thanks to taper Randy Bayers, you can dive into nearly-full audio from the performance:
Les Claypool‘s Bastard Jazz – 5/3/19 – Full Audio
[Audio via Funk It Blog]
You can also watch a nearly-full crowd-shot video of the performance (in 4 parts) thanks to YouTube user Michael Hawkins.
Les Claypool’s Bastard Jazz – 5/3/19 – Part 1
Les Claypool’s Bastard Jazz – 5/3/19 – Part 2
Les Claypool’s Bastard Jazz – 5/3/19 – Part 3
Les Claypool’s Bastard Jazz – 5/3/19 – Part 4
For those who missed Les Claypool’s Bastard Jazz in New Orleans, fear not—the group will reconvene on Jam Cruise 18 in January 2020.
Setlist: Les Claypool’s Bastard Jazz | The Joy Theater | New Orleans, LA | 5/3/19 (Late-Night)
Set: Improv, The Seven (Primus), Improv, Mr. Wright (The Claypool Lennon Delirium)*, Improv, D’s Diner (Col. Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade)
*with Sean Lennon on guitar