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Review / 'Cory Wong is in constant demand worldwide'

Minneapolis-based funk guitarist Cory Wong stops off at Bristol venue The Fleece, Lauren Paddison reviews.

By Lauren Paddison, First year Music

Minneapolis-based funk guitarist Cory Wong stops off at Bristol venue The Fleece, Lauren Paddison reviews.

The venue that had emptied itself just a couple of hours earlier from a Masterclass with Cory Wong, was once again teeming with fans and music lovers, pint in hand, awaiting the man himself. The atmosphere was buzzing, the anticipation strong.

Before the show started there were two visual projectors placed at opposing ends of the venue, screening songs from masters such as George Micheal. He was clearly gearing the mood, or maybe just showing some of his favourite tunes.

In his first few moments on stage, Cory Wong quickly identified the two types of people in the audience before him. The 60% that were here for a really good time, and the other 40% muso population who had spent more time looking at the gear on stage than the musicians themselves. His task was to blend the two groups, giving each what they came for, and he did exactly that.

Cory's set was explosive. A cohesion of genius and pure musical craft. The band’s unique blend of texture and seamless transitions comprised a performance that is without a doubt the tightest I have ever seen live. The musical understanding he had been talking about a couple of hours before was so clearly evident. Every man on that stage knew exactly what they needed to do, and they were doing it perfectly.

He mainly let the music do the talking, but the distinctive use of voice effects when he did address the crowd made everyone laugh. It was a shock to hear the voice so deep and authoritative, usually used for cartoon superheroes, come out of a guy with quite a small frame and build. It was effective and witty. The set also had some stunning moments from the brass and wind section, with solos from the trombone, trumpet and sax; the latter being especially impressive as the player at times was playing on two saxophones at the same time. We were completely in awe.

Towards the end of the show, Cory fell to the floor after a tantalising solo that left many of us speechless. In the musical world of Cory Wong, expertise and skill can sometimes be termed as having ‘chops’. E.g. ‘The bassist has got some serious chops tonight!’. It was after this lesson, and while Cory was on the floor, that he announced, ‘I’ve lost my chops!’. Support act Phoebe Katis then came on stage, and strategically held up blocks of wood, which Cory would then karate chop in a physical attempt to regain his skill. This went on for about five minutes, each one spent watching Cory try to derive his abilities from his bandmates, somewhat telepathically, interluded with punches and kicks to break the blocks of wood. It was quite hilarious, but what was more impressive than Cory’s karate was the mesmerisingly funky musical escapade that followed. The ‘guitar face’ on this man is also pretty remarkable.

The Minneapolis-based funk guitarist who is central to the revival of jazz/funk styles is in constant demand around the world. I am very grateful that Bristol was one of his drop off points on this journey of revival.

Featured Image: Cory Wong/ Cory wong

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