Players: Ramon Jackson, vocals; Clayton Bryant, vocals; Rich Bomzer, sax, talkbox; Jesse Klirsfeld, trumpet; Chris DeCarmine, drums; Jesse Katz, bass; Cory Gypsy Simpson, guitar; Marcio Garcia, keys
Material: It looks like Sugar Hill in New York has been hosting a socially distanced Supper Club, and this set by NYC band Bombzr was recorded on Sept. 4 (so technically we’re reviewing a stream, as opposed to a livestream). But that’s okay—this is a brave new world and everyone’s adapting. The set is short, just the four songs, but certainly enjoyable. The sound is a very traditional take on funk and R&B with a ‘70s disco vibe. Horns and even some nifty use of a talkbox (haven’t seen that in a while). Think Kool & the Gang and Chic, with a bit of Detroit Spinners thrown in for good measure.
Musicianship: The set takes a while to warm up, in all honesty. Though to be fair, that appears to be by design. The band takes to the stage minus a frontman, and make a soft start. By the time singer Ramon Jackson gets up for the hilariously titled “Butterscotch Baby,” they’ve found their groove and are firing. Clearly, they can all play. Sax player (and the man responsible for the talkbox) Rich Bomzer is the band leader—he has after all gifted them with their name. The rhythm section ticks along nicely, while guitarist Cory Gypsy Simpson and keys man Marcio Garcia add some nice flourishes. The horns stand out, but that’s to be expected here. Meanwhile, both of the vocalists utilized (separately)—Jackson and Clayton Bryant—have wonderfully warm and expressive voices. Bryant’s two songs—“Make Me Feel Your Moves” and “Act a Fool”—are as enjoyable as the show opener.
Performance: There’s not a lot to talk about. It’s a four song set, so there’s not much time for between-song chatter. Bomzer does introduce the band members, and tell us when a song is new—that’s about it. And this being socially distanced, it sounds like the crowd is spread thin, and the band obviously can’t get in their faces. But still, the musicians have enough charisma to carry the whole thing, and there’s never a dull moment.
Summary: A Supper Club show during these weird times is always going to be a challenge. But we heard enough from Bombzr to make us want to hear more. If nothing else, it’s great to hear a band that plays funky R&B the old school way. And let’s be honest—“Butterscotch Baby” is a great song title.