Since neither Deena nor I surf, you may well ask what we are doing in Jaco Beach, the surfing mecca of Costa Rica. Yes, we did sit at the Backyard Bar, and watched the Saturday afternoon surf contest while sipping cold domestic Pilsen beer. That was more of an after thought, discovered after we already arrived here.
We came for Jungle Jam 2014. This is a growing but still small jam band festival in the hills above Playa Jaco. Clear, warm nights in a grass amphitheater, full moon, trees and good music are worth the trip.
The headliner was Slightly Stoopid, a reggae fusion band. They’re super popular, but for my taste, the over-amplified, over-echoed sound wasn’t great. When they joined Karl Denson’s set for a Beastie Boys tribute, it was pure delight. They have an awesome beat, but it left me tired. For me, reggae is Bob Marley and music from the heart, music from Jah. Slightly Stoopid is not that. (Yeah, I know. When I was a kid I walked to school uphill, both ways, in the snow. Yada yada yada. I miss Bob Marley.)
The Saturday night sets by G.Love and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe paid the admission. G.Love segued from his amazing solo pieces to probably a ten, twelve full jam with the other artists joining him. He has a connection to the audience and other musicians that is unequalled. I can only imagine that it must be as much of a pleasure to jam with him as it is to listen. It was one of those phenomenal once-in-a-lifetime performances, that we’ve already had twice.
Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe was the best modern jazz I’ve heard in a long time. His set was a pleasure that made us move and rock.
We are likely to be thinking about this event next year. Want to join us?