After fighting snow and ice, I finally arrived at a small but intimately refurbished 150 seat WWll era USO building. The truth be told, this structure also houses many music lovers of the same aforementioned era that have irrevocable lifetime leases, if you know what I mean. (ghost) Anyway, after arriving late and shedding some layers I found a seat in the rear of a nearly sold out acoustically inviting venue. The first thing I heard was this way out west, western, hot, jazzy sound with a very distinctive drawl that would soon prove to me that these guys and gals had some scoobie-doo in their wahooo.
Cow Bop, formed in 2003 by internationally acclaimed guitarist Bruce Forman is the very best of a little known category called Cowboy Jazz and or Western Bee Bop. Mix swinging extended grooves, thrilling harmonic improvisations, sweet sassy vocals and tons of on stage fun and you have only begun to describe Cow Bop.
The group consisted of Bruce Forman up front on guitar drawing you in with memories of a Wes Montgomery, Pat Matheny and a Django Reinhardt all mixed into one. Then you have the small in stature, big on sound, special guest, Kristen Korb on stand-up bass keeping a tight Ray Brown influenced groove filled bottom while intermittently teasing you with Ella type scatting during her solos. The Fiddler, Phil Salazar, continually dazzled the room with a Bluegrass provincialism that made you think that Bill Monroe and Stephane Grappelli were both in the room. Pinto Pammy on lead vocals showcasing a variety of moods, shades and tones, and constantly reminding you "That There's No Place Like Home." And rounding out this quintet was Mike McKinley on drums. Kinda at a loss for words here due to the fact that at one point towards the end of the first set an impromptu break was announced and the drummer left the stage. This concluded soon after with a glowing McKinley returning from outside, somewhere near the dumpster area of the venue with a simple cardboard box, and promptly proceeded to sit right back down, with group in tow, and finished off the first set playing his newly acquired drums, al-la Clayton Cameron, ultimately with what was to be the 1st of many standing ovations for the evening.
While only performing Country and Bluegrass standards there was still an ever present up-tempo swinging groove that displayed the groups unparalleled harmonic cohesiveness as well as its predilection for Bop.
Upon hearing Cow Bop for the first time be prepared to join the ranks of those who sing praises to the artistry, talent and creative sensibilities of Bruce Forman and Cow Bop.....