Michael Shrieve's Spellbinder
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Michael Shrieve's Spellbinder

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"Master of the Skins - Matt Driscoll"

Michael Shrieve’s Spellbinder is so good you’ll forget his past ... almost.

"Dude got a lot of face time in that Woodstock movie,” pointed out my boss, Pappi Swarner, when I mentioned I’d be covering drummer Michael Shrieve and his band Spellbinder’s performance at Jazzbones in Tacoma this Saturday.??
Yes, he sure did. And for good reason.??
At the ripe age of 20 — and actually just days after his birthday — Shrieve took the stage at Woodstock as part of Carlos Santana’s band, making him — among other things — the youngest performer at Woodstock. Though Shrieve would eventually leave Santana’s band to pursue solo projects, the most vivid image most music fans hold of Shrieve is of him wailing away at his kit on that historic day in Bethel, N.Y.??
Though the most memorable moment of Shrieve’s career happened nearly 40 years ago, the man hasn’t exactly been sitting idly since. Shrieve is, after all, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The fact that he’s played with the likes of Mick Jagger, Pete Townshend, Steve Winwood, Reggie Watts and Skerik is no mistake. He’s a master of the skins and has proved it time and time again.??
These days Shrieve calls Seattle home, and has created a band for his wild ideas, Spellbinder, with wide ranging and impressive musical skills — thanks to the chops of bandmates and Seattle luminaries like guitarist Danny Godinez, Hammond master Joe Doria, bassist Farko Rustamovich Dosumov and trumpet tooter John Fricke. For over a year now Michael Shrieve’s Spellbinder has played weekly to adoring crowds at Seattle’s Tost, and this Friday they’ll bring that dynamic jazz fusion to Jazzbones in Tacoma.
“I had another band, Tangletown, that was a nine-piece and had two drum sets. It was a wonderful band, but with so many people it just became difficult,” explains Shrieve. “(For Spellbinder) I had an idea of how I wanted to be playing drums — light but driving. All of the musicians I knew from other places. I had something specific in mind, and we got together and started doing it.”??
“It’s my project. It’s my vision. It’s what I want. I have the final say,” continues Shrieve. “It’s not necessarily a bad thing for a project to have a singular vision.”??
While Spellbinder may be guided by the singular vision of Shrieve, after over a year of working together, the band — and the amazing musical DNA it’s made up of — is truly becoming one. That’s just one of the reasons that fans who may only know of Shrieve from his work with Santana are catching the Spellbinder bug in hordes.??
“This is a world class band,” says Shrieve. “It has a great feel, which is why I call it Spellbinder. This band can really take you to another place. The reaction has been really wonderful.”??
“(Fans of Shrieve’s work with Santana) absolutely love it,” continues Shrieve. “Because it’s real and intense. It’s something happening right before their eyes.”?
Real. Intense. Talented. And jaw-dropping. All of these adjectives and more will no doubt be hurled with fervor during Spellbinder’s show this Saturday night at Jazzbones. Whether you know of him only from the Woodstock movie, or you don’t know him at all — if you’re a fan of boundary busting, new school jazz — Michael Shrieve is your man. Check him out at Jazzbones, and be on the lookout for that brown acid.

- Weekly Volcano


"Evening of Unparalleled Percussion - Daniel Sheehan"

The searing sextet of Seattle-based drum legend, Michael Shrieve (Santana), in astonishing renditions of music from throughout Shrieve’s still-expanding musical quest.

Shrieve is at the height of his powers in a band that has wowed audiences at its weekly gig at ToST in Fremont. His own mastery has peaked again to rank with the fabled performances of his youth. And he has able support from a cast of Seattle’s best: stellar guitarist Danny Godinez, Joe Doria (Hammond B-3 organ), John Fricke (trumpet), and the astounding electric bassist, a seeming reincarnation of Jaco, from Uzbekistan, Farko Dosumov.?

Shrieve humbly calls himself a “mongrel” drummer, but you can call him Mr. Drum Ace, a master who has melded a multitude of percussion traditions into a seamless whole. Here he leads his quintet in scintillating performance, displaying the musical intuitions that have made the man who turned Carlos Santana on to Miles and Trane a renowned figure in percussion, worldwide, and record producer for everyone from the Rolling Stones to Bill Frisell to Amon Tobin.

- Earshot Jazz


"Michael Shrieve's Spellbinder Live at ToST - Douglas Payne"

Drummer Michael Shrieve was the rhythmic force behind the classic Santana band (1969-74) and the one Carlos Santana credits with introducing the guitarist to the music of Miles Davis and John Coltrane - quite something, since the guitarist has paid homage to both jazz legends many times since. Shrieve went onto to many other gigs that mixed the propulsive fury of rock with the challenging musicianship of jazz, including stints with Stomu Yamashta, the Rolling Stones, Klaus Schulze and others.

Ever the busy session player, Shrieve’s name isn’t as well known as it ought to be, despite his infrequent solo recordings (the last being some decade-and-a-half ago). That should all change with Michael Shrieve’s Spellbinder, an elegant jam band of the first order that mixes rock with jazz in equal and exciting measure. This beautifully conceived quintet takes its name from guitarist Gabor Szabo’s tune, which is best known from its brief appearance at the end of Santana’s hit, “Black Magic Woman.” Shrieve’s unit contains trumpeter John Fricke, offering a taste of 70s-era Miles, organist Joe Doria, guitarist Danny Godinez and bassist Farko Dosumov—all fellow Seattle residents. The band has a standing Monday night gig at the Seattle club Tost, where this exceptionally fine performance was recorded during February 2008.

Shrieve offers up some familiarity by reacquainting his audience with his own excellent “Every Step of the Way” and Gene Ammons’ “Jungle Strut.” While both retain their classic Santana groove, Shrieve gets to show off his young band’s intriguing personality by revealing some genuinely exciting playing. Shrieve also revisits his own “Moon Over You” and the unusual “Gole Sangem,” a tune he first explored in 1994. Two out-of-the-blue but convincingly appropriate selections surface from bassist Marc Johnson’s Right Brain Patrol (JMT, 1993)—”Inside Four Walls” and “They Love Me Fifteen Feet Away.”

This disc’s highlight, though, is undoubtedly Godinez’s beautiful “Flamingo,” whose open-ended structure recalls Szabo’s Latinesque melodic jam themes (e.g., “A Thousand Times”). Godinez sounds positively inspired and inspiring here and beautifully works in appropriate kudos to George Benson’s “Affirmation” as well. Both Doria and Godinez get the lion’s share of solos, which is fine, given their exceptional talent. Organist Doria is an ideal accompanist, crossing the spacey
near-free otherworldliness of Larry Young with the strong rock-ish foundation of Gregg Rollie. Guitarist Godinez has quite the career ahead of him, if this disc is any indication. He is a thoughtful and engaging player that pays props to the past (Santana, Larry Coryell, Szabo, Benson, Pat Metheny) while making it clear that he’s got something of his own to say. Few organ/guitar/drum groups have been this stimulating since John Abercrombie’s association with Dan Wall and Adam Nussbaum.

While Live at Tost is an excellent—if sadly too brief—introduction to this band, it only scratches the surface of what is hoped will be the start of something beautiful (their version of “Spellbinder,” which is not heard here, is indeed spellbinding)—a long and well-recorded career for Michael Shrieve’s Spellbinder.

- All About Jazz


Discography

Live at ToST

Photos

Bio

Michael Shrieve, the original drummer for Santana, was the youngest performer at Woodstock and helped create Santana's first 8 albums. Michael has been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and received Guitar Center's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

Recording credits include:
The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger, George Harrison, Pete Townsend, Steve Winwood, John McLaughlin, Santana, Jaco Pastorius, Zakir Hussain, Freddie Hubbard, Police guitarist Andy Summers, Airto Moreira and Bill Frisell.

"I owe Michael a lot. I just wanted to play blues until Michael came. He opened my eyes, ears and my heart. Some drummers only have chops, but Michael has vision. Michael is like a box of crayons; he has all the colors." - Carlos Santana

"These days Shrieve has created a band for his wild ideas, Spellbinder, with wide ranging and impressive musical skills — thanks to the chops of bandmates and Seattle luminaries like guitarist Danny Godinez, Hammond master Joe Doria, bassist Farko Rustamovich Dosumov and trumpet tooter John Fricke. For over a year now Michael Shrieve’s Spellbinder has played weekly to adoring crowds at Seattle’s ToST. While Spellbinder may be guided by the singular vision of Shrieve, the band — and the amazing musical DNA it’s made up of — is one of the reasons that fans who may only know of Shrieve from his work with Santana are catching the Spellbinder bug in hordes." - Matt Driscoll, Weekly Volcano