Koko Boom
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Koko Boom

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The best kept secret in music

Press


A Rock-Soul Explosion Pete GlowatskySpecial to Washingtonpost.com/MP3Friday, May 13, 2005 The Boom that began at the Invisible Arts Lab recording studio at Ninth and N streets NW began as a much smaller collision between two artists more than a decade earlier. "We've known each other more than 10 years and played in different groups," explains Michael Aaron, the mastermind behind Koko Boom (link to MP3 site). "I was working on this album, and when Kofi [Rozzell] started working with me, it became obvious that we wanted to continue working together." With that, Koko Boom was born. Together with keyboardist Hodari McClain and the post-recording addition of guitarist Rich Russman, the band fuses funky R&B grooves with a dash of rock and roll musicality, something that is often missing in today's beat-driven, hip-hop-influenced outfits. "We're trying to bring back the live element to shows," Aaron says. That ethos is splattered all over Koko Boom's recently released debut CD, "The Whole Lovely…." Jangling guitars mix with Aaron's buttery vocals on the sultry opener "Like a Woman," the first of a quartet of romantic odes. The formula changes little from track to track, but Aaron's knack for writing strong hooks and the occasional flash of other elements (Mark Allred's trumpet and trombone blasts, McClain's piano and Fender Rhodes fingerwork) keep the album from becoming stale. Rozzell's steady drumming throughout cements the disc's hip-swaying factor. Aaron and Rozzell spent a year in the studio learning how to record an album from the ground up. "Having never produced a record before and having never recorded my songs before, it was a process," Aaron admits. "We learned a lot." "Trying to find the right way to get through the process, what order to do things, when to record the vocals," Rozzell interjects. Though the record reflects Aaron and Rozzell's musical partnership, the former is the creative engine behind Koko Boom. Aaron wrote all of the songs over a four-year period, plays many of the instruments and sings on each track. "He got the meat of the songs together, and then we got together to flesh it out," says Rozzell. "Generally, it's all personal stuff," says the songwriter. Love and romance form the backbone of "The Whole Lovely…" but Aaron spreads his wings under an insistent groove on the spiritually minded "Heavy Weather," the song on the album that he says remained truest to his original blueprint. Although mild disillusionment percolates in "Under America," Aaron quickly regroups for "Weary," offering unclouded hope for those not as far along the path. "Don't be discouraged young ones/ though life is hard/ you're young and your heart is still brave," he sings, reinforcing an overtly optimistic thread that weaves all the songs together. "I think we wanted to make a positive record, so we tried to stick to positive things," Aaron explains. "Not to put a certain image in a person's mind, we wanted songs where people couldn't just hear positive things but feel them listening to the music." Rozzell completes the picture: "It's a positive and energetic experience, but there's no fluff." Furthering the notion that Koko Boom is anything but light, they kick it up a notch onstage. Both Aaron and Rozzell repeatedly use the word "energetic" to describe the band's sets. "You get the rock feel more when you see us live," Aaron says. That presents its own challenges, according to both. "It's not a straight R&B record; it's not a rock record," Rozzell says. "I think that's one of our challenges -- to find our audience." Aaron agrees: "We haven't necessarily found our clique or our group yet." Both musicians list the Beatles, Sly Stone, David Bowie, Prince and Jimi Hendrix as influences, so it makes sense that their live sound is eclectic and prone to jamming. Upcoming shows include Saturday, May 21, at DC9 (1940 Ninth St. NW) and Thursday, May 26, at Bar Nun (1326 U St. NW). Koko Boom will be appearing at Bar Nun every other Thursday throughout the summer. "The Whole Lovely…" is currently available at the band's live shows, but Rozzell says he is in the process of getting the album distributed on CDbaby.com. - Washingtonpost.com


Discography

"The Whole Lovely....Funkglove Concerto Suite No. 1" is the group's debut album release.

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

With the help of mentors Greg Gavin and jazz great Steve Coleman, Michael Aaron began to develop his songwriting talent; a talent that as it matured, was augmented by his skills as a keyboardist, guitarist and bassist. "The Whole Lovely....Funkglove Concerto Suite No. 1" the group's debut album, is a complete representation of the Koko Boom sound--layered, soulful, melodic, energetic and accessible.
The comparisons to artists like Prince and Sly Stone are obvious, but "The Whole Lovely..." also demonstrates a sound touched by influenes from such well known artists as the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Marvin Gaye as well as lesser know singer/songwirter as Jeff Buckley while remaining clearly a product of Michael's own life and path in music. His years of working on his craft and countless jam sessions with some of the DC area's finest musicians has certainly paid off in a sound that is both complex and intelligently funk-inflected.
With the recent success of their album release party at DC's Nation Nightclub, the group has played a string of successful gigs and festivals including the 6 Points Music festival and will continue this summer/fall with a weekly gig at Republic Gardens on historic U ST.