October 15, 2009

Live Review: The Realistic Orchestra

San Francisco, CA // Oct. 7, 2009

Joe Bagale’s brow was dripping with sweat as he rubbed his hands together, rocking side to side like a priest performing an exorcism, fully capable of destroying evil. His enthusiasm for the music reverberating in the room created an atmosphere alive with electricity and his voice reigned in this energy, projecting it out even more powerfully. Currently nominated for an SF Weekly music award, Bagale fronts the Realistic Orchestra.

The Realistic Orchestra is part of the extensive family referred to as the Jazz Mafia, the brainchild of Adam Theis. Their big band style and monstrous horn section blew the crowd away. Playing all new arrangements, which included elements of hip-hop and R&B, they wowed the crowd so much that most sat still, yet wide-eyed and open. Laughter, bordering on gasps of astonishment, could be heard throughout the room after every solo and throughout most of the set. Bagale introduced sax player Kasey Knudsen as his “favorite saxophonist in the area.” Her solo was bad, as in it was really really good, at least according to the audience, who gave her one of the biggest applauses of the evening. Vocalist Karen Paige rocked the charisma and besides her beautiful voice, captivated people with her free flowing vibe and clean style.

The Jazz Mafia’s Realistic Orchestra shows that different genres of music can work in partnership to create an auditory experience that’s as pleasing as it is exciting. Openness and rejection of labels is the lifeblood of their eclectic collaboration and it could be the answer for those seeking to push the limits of their own musical exploration.

Review by Rose Fellom; photos by Rosalyn Lee


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