The Nth Power

Opening Act: The Reign of Kindo

@ Highline Ballroom – Show @ 8PM (Doors @ 7PM)

Since they first came together at a 3 a.m. jam at New Orleans Jazz Fest 2012, the Nth Power have been defying and redefining all the conventions of what a band can be.

This is a powerhouse quartet of world class players, ones who have powered the music of icons like Beyonce, Chaka Khan, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, Big Daddy Kane, funk innovator Maceo Parker, Groovechild, jazz greats Ravi Coltrane and Matt Garrison to name a few. Their sound fearlessly crosses genres – marrying funky soul, rock, R&B, jazz, Gospel, folk and World Beat with improvisational chops that can match any collective on the jazz and jam band scenes.

Though a slate of nearly 150 gigs, The Nth Power has generated a huge following among open-minded music lovers, critics and the toughest of all audiences, their fellow musicians.

And while this virtuoso,groove-heavy unit can stretch out with the best of them, what will become apparent with the Fall 2015 release of their first full-length CD, “Abundance,” is their disciplined and infectious song craft. Recorded at the Music Shed in New Orleans with Chaka Khan/Kylie Minogue/’N Sync producer Ira Schickman at the helm, “Abundance”demonstrate show The Nth Power can harness their instrumental prowess and diverse influences into hook-heavy, radio-friendly slices – direct, refined, emotive, memorable tunes that harken to the best of their many influences, from Marvin Gaye, Earth Wind & Fire and Sly Stone to The Roots, Maxwell and Steely Dan.

The catalyst for the formation of The Nth Power, the personable connector for this racially and stylistically diverse group of players, is female powerhouse drummer Nikki Glaspie. Called “a no-gimmick, open-hearted ambassador of the groove, an archangel of rhythm ”by Jambase, Glaspie spent five, globe-trotting years as the heartbeat for Beyonce, before joining Ivan Neville’s New Orleans funk outfit, Dumpstaphunk, and even fitting in other high-profile gigs with artists like jazz titans Ravi Coltrane and Matt Garrison and R&B legend Chaka Khan.

“I was living a totally ‘gig-to-mouth’ existence before Beyonce,” laughs Glaspie. “I went to the audition with only $50 in my pocket! So I’m very glad it worked out. I got to tour world, record on a multi-million selling album and even play for Obama at the White House.”

The Virginia-born drummer’s first exposure to music came in church under the tutelage of her keyboard-playing mother. She made the first of the connections that would give birth to The Nth Power in Boston, while studying at the renowned Berkeley College of Music. “One of my instructors, the great Cuban drummer Francisco Mela, brought me into the fold at Wally’s Café, Boston’s longest-running jazz club. Even though I was technically underage, they let me sit-in on the jazz, funk and Latin nights. That’s where I got to meet and play with so many great players, including our bassist Nate Edgar.

New Hampshire-native Nate Edgar is another component in one of music’s most buzzed about rhythm sections of the moment. A versatile groove merchant of the highest order, Edgar’s merciless bottom-end powered acclaimed bands like Groovechild and John Brown’s Body, before he helped found The Nth Power. Nate’s relentless funk is one of the highlights of the band’s live performances, whipping the crowd into what one critic called “hip-popping hysterics” during his solos. Like each member of the band, Nate also contributes mightily to the songwriting. It is one of his Michael Jacksonesque-grooves that provided the pulse and inspiration for the first single from their forthcoming CD, “Right Now.”

Edgar’s uplifting grooves also seem to inform the philosophy that the band shares. “This band is about the power of love, about elevating and uniting ourselves and those who listen to us,” adds Edgar. “We’re always seeking to improve, as humans, musicians, writers and spirits. It’s about getting in tune with ourselves and sharing our spirit and happiness with those whose ears and hearts are open to the call.”

Guitarist/singer Nick Cassarino is a Burlington, Vermont-native who cut his teeth in the local scene with the Jennifer Hartswick Band, led by the Phish/Trey Anastasio vocalist/trumpeter, and as tour guitarist for artists including legendary hip-hop pioneer Big Daddy Kane. Cassarino made his connection with Glaspie in 2004, when the drummer was working with Hartwick’s band and the guitarist sat-in.

“I think a primary connector between me and Nikki is our gospel roots,” adds Cassarino. “My parents also brought me up playing in church, with the whole folk mass thing. Then they made the somewhat controversial move of introducing gospel music into our conservative Catholic congregation. I’m not sure it stuck at the church, but it has certainly stuck with me!”

On stage, Cassarino is a focal point – with his infectious personality, killer guitar chops and versatile gospel-inspired lead vocals, ones which can shift from Smokey Robinson-like sweetness to a gritty Delta blues growl in a measure. Guitaristically, he covers the waterfront, with popping, Nile Rodgers-like chukka-rhythms giving way to soaring blues and jazz flavored solos, ones which bring to mind the playing of Steely Dan’s session ace, Larry Carlton, and the educated jam band explorations of jazz great John Scofield.

Compositionally, Cassarino is also a driving force in the The Nth Power, wholly penning or serving as the catalyst for collaborations on the nine vocal songs on their forthcoming release.

The Nth Power’s rhythmic drive only got stronger with the addition of West African master percussionist Weedie Braimah. Descending from a remarkable 111th generations of percussionist on his Ghana-born father’s side, Braimah’s name literally translates into “little drummer” in the country’s Akan dialect. Weedie first connected with The Nth Power in 2013 at (where else?) a jam at New Orleans Jazz Fest.

Braimah has played with a litany of the world’s greatest drummers and world music icons, including Mamady Keita, Babatunde Olatunji, Oumou Sangare, Baaba Maal, Tito Puente and jazz great Idris Muhammed, who also happens to be his great uncle. He takes his name from his Grandfather, who was a drummer from New Orleans. His uncle “Pie” has the distinction of having taught the famed Zigaboo Modeliste of The Meters how to play.

“I can’t think of anyone in the world with more ‘drum’ in his blood,” quips Glaspie. “He comes to us with 111 generations of drummer in his DNA! The colors, texture and pulse Weedie brings further individualizes and elevates our music, both our songs and our improvisations, which can now have a World Beat-flavor.”

The band took its name from the first letter of the first names of its founder, Nikki, Nick, Nate and keyboardist Nigel Hall. Though Hall recently had an amicable parting with the band to fully devote himself to his solo career, his soulful playing, vocals and compositional talents will be featured on “Abundance.”

The Nth Power’s gospel vibe and celestial harmonies have only been furthered by Hall’s replacement, keyboardist/singer Courtney “Jay-Mel” Smith. In addition to his own diverse gigging, the 24-year old St. Louis native comes to the band straight from church, where he served as organist and choir director.

“Like Weedie, Courtney brings a new dimension to the sound, a deep soulful groove and vocal harmony that has lifted us as a band and our audiences as well,” adds Cassarino.

The Nth Power didn’t waste any time after their faithful first jam at Jazz Fest 2012. By Fall 2012, they were in the studio in New Orleans recording their debut EP, 2013’s critically-acclaimed “Basic Minimum Skills Test.” Tracks from the album, and an early live version of a forthcoming single, “Only Love,” have enjoyed airplay on venues like Sirius XM Radio, and led to their broadcast performance debut on VH-1’s “Morning Buzz.”

The Nth Power has built a huge adoring audience the old fashioned way, by being joyful road warriors since they hit the circuit in earnest in September 2014. Their 150 performances to date have included huge events like New Orleans Jazz Fest, The Bear Creek Music Festival, The Telluride Jazz Festival, The High Sierra Music Festival and The Gathering of the Vibes and intimate clubs where taste makers gather, like Los Angeles’ The Mint and New York’s Brooklyn Bowl, in the borough they now call home.

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June 12, 2016
$15 - $18
Highline Ballroom