MUSIC REVIEW- Red Eye flight: Their great jazz escaped me

When last I wrote about Red Eye Seamus, I had just finished listening to their debut album recorded at Crystalphonic last year. The music, which could be categorized as progressive jazz-fusion, was drenched with the kind of songwriting and arrangement found only in the most complex compositions.

The backbone of the group, bassist Ricky Reed, is a master of his instrument. His technique is close to flawless. He has an ear for radical blends of styles and genres that he glues together with mathematical precision.

As much as I appreciated what I heard on the record, I didnt have the patience to listen to more than two or three songs at once. The material is dense very dense. Red Eye Seamus is not music for a casual listener. If music is the cure for what ails you, then Red Eye Seamus is like open-heart surgery– while your average band is merely a Tylenol PM.

For the academic listener, Red Eye Seamus is a godsend. The group enjoys writing and performing songs with time signature and tempo changes, advanced chord structures, and other cerebrally stimulating elements– a lot to digest.

After the departure of the trios original drummer, Reed brought in James McLaughlin. Together with guitarist Ben Waring, the trio has somewhat reinvented itself– maybe not so much reinvented as upgraded.

Saturday night Red Eye Seamus set up shop downstairs at Starr Hill, a venue which has done a great job of using the space to showcase small regional and local acts. Seamus came through with a small but dedicated following to display their wares.

The Red Eye Seamus experience is much different live than on CD. As with most music that uses virtuosity as a calling card, it's better understood when the act is occurring in front of the listener's face. It's easy to hear Ricky Reed play something complicated, but it's another thing altogether to see him in action. CDs can be manipulated– overdubs and punch-ins and all other methods of "cheating" are used to achieve a polished product. What Red Eye Seamus does on disc, they can do live. And that's impressive.

There I was, staring wide-eyed as the trio worked their way through brain-teasing arrangements and Mensa-level musicianship.
McLaughlin proved to be the perfect addition– his steady, rigid drumming adds balance to Warings unpredictable guitar work and Reeds involved bass playing.

I stuck around for the majority of the show, leaving just before the last few songs. Red Eye Seamus had made an impression. But I still found myself a bit frustrated. I left with nothing to latch on to.

The group did so much– made so many changes, danced around and explored so many possibilities and combinations on every song– that when it was all over, nothing really stuck with me. Just as I began to latch onto a groove, it would change or disappear completely. Because of that, I have images only of the band burned into my brain and very little of what matters most: the music itself.