MUSIC REVIEW | Experimental jazz with Embezzler at Khyber Pass Café


I have good news and bad news, my favorite quiet nights of music—Thursdays  at the Khyber Pass Café in St Paul—are filling up. I’m glad for the musicians. I’m glad for the Khyber Pass. But I’ve got to start being on time. Embezzler played this week, which is Paul Metzger on the guitar and other instruments, Adam Linz on the upright bass and JT Base on the drums and other percussion accoutrements.  

All three musicians play around the Cities; the night earlier I heard Bates play country music with the Cactus Blossoms and Erik Koskinen. I’ve seen Linz play with sundry musicians at the Khyber Pass and could spend hours watching Metzger playing the adapted banjo. Together as Embezzler this week, they played experimental jazz.

I don’t know how much of the set is improvised and how much rehearsed but they play well together, which I think can in a strange way seems more difficult with experimental music because the goal isn’t to be playing the same tune so much as in the same wheel house. If pop music is like musical Garanimals; experimental jazz is runway fashion. A little harder to understand but much more interesting.

At the crescendo the music is fast and loud and fills the small warm space quickly; but sometimes the best music is valleys that are quiet and slow and maybe not precisely nuanced but laidback, more dreamy than thoughtful.

Next week at Khyber Pass, Michael Lewis will be playing “an evening of solo musical explorations;” there’s a promise of improvisation!