Dj’s have made an impact on how live musicians interpret a genre. Those who might disagree need look no further than the Breakestra. The name is in fact a reference to the break beats that started the hip-hop movement in the South Bronx during the 1970’s. This eight piece band led by Bass player Miles “Music Man” Tackett took the stage at Commonwealth Lounge on Sunday night. It was a crowd mixed with break dancers and downtown locals that cut loose on the floor, although the two were not mutually exclusive.
Imagine for a moment that you thought about composing live music like a DJ would. DJs will take sections from drum beats and a variety of other samples that they find and match. The same concept is applied to Breakestra and how they write songs. Throughout their tracks you can hear distinct cuts and riffs from popular funk and soul standards. James Brown riffs played by guitarist Pat “The Snake” Bailey appear in different sections of the set just to name an example. The added beauty of this angle is that a live band doesn’t have to do beat matching the same way a DJ would. Breakestra also collects influence from genres like dancehall reggae. The sound comes across in Breakestra’s cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”. They also covered “You Can Make It If You Try” by Sly and the Family Stone.
The set was continuous and rarely did they pause in between songs. The times they did however, placed an emphasis of importance before beginning the next track. Female vocalist Afrodyete spoke after silence and a suddenly red glow from the lights, “How are my ladies doing out there? Thank god times have changed in the sh** we have to take”. The line set the mood between their tracks, “Sour Girl” and “Sexy Coffee”. This LA based group manages to make tracks that stand out as unique, even if you might have heard a piece of it somewhere else first.
Performing in Breakestra:
Music Tackett - lead bassist/cellist & vocalist
Mix Master Wolf - soul shoutin’ and sangin”
Pat “The Snake” Bailey - guitar (also the guitarist for The Rebirth)
Chuck Boogie- Fender rhodes, percussion & vocals
Josh Welchez- trumpet
David Mpyer- saxophones & flute
John Montgomery- drums