The O-town Scene

March 10, 2011

The O-town Scene - Oneonta, NY

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Electronica musician puts on a vibrating show at Oak Sam Spokony Jeff Bujak performs at the Black Oak Tavern in Oneonta on Saturday. Concert Review was When I talked to Jeff Bujak in the “Mu- sic People” interview that featured in the Feb. 24 issue of the O-Town Scene, I got a pretty good sense of the private world he enters during a live performance. For him, it is less about connecting with an audience on a personal level than about immersing himself entirely in the production of his music. He becomes the tunes; and to his listeners he offers a spontaneously conceived energy which, in any setting, is always authentic, perhaps more so than any verbal rapport with a fan could ever be. So, when I saw Bujak play two sets at the Black Oak Tavern last Saturday night, I expected a certain level of aloofness, and that is exactly what I saw. But it would be wrong to just say he is detached or overly introverted, because it would not be true. A better de- scription lies amidst the unique elements that place him squarely within the mindset of intelligent dance music, and those are what give his live musical persona the power to create very real connections that some fail to remember exist in the contemporary world of electronica, which is often reduced to simple pop sensibilities. From the second he takes a seat behind a massively intricate setup that includes a Fender Rhodes, another keyboard, a laptop, an intense array of electronic beat stations, multiple effects and lighting and fog machines, Bujak is a man at work. His musical mentality is truly liquid, and though a classically trained pianist, his virtuosity is now more readily expressed in the uncanny ability to manipulate, with all four limbs, his digital control center. With material that drew heavily from his most recent album, “Alive Like the Spine,” but stretched into extended jams that shifted frequently through thick melodies, punchy rhythmic grooves and samples that ranged from the Beastie Boys to Michael Jackson to spoken word excerpts, Bujak bent the Black Oak and all within it to his will. He really did. Pausing not more than five or six times over a span of three hours, he spun musical yarns that were at once engaging, dance- able and intellectually provocative. At any tempo, in any key, it was hard not to get lost in them. And he never for a moment sat perfectly His virtuosity is now more readily expressed in the uncanny ability to manipulate, with all four limbs, his digital control center. still, as if in front of a computer or worksta- tion. Bujak feels every inch of what he does, and it flows from tip to toe; a performer, arranger and conductor rolled into one, he nods, smiles, grimaces, flails in step with the swell and fall of each beat. So it is that the electronica plays Bujak as much as he might ever play it. In itself, that is the connection so many performers struggle to find. He does not chat up a crowd during a live set, he just thanks them for being a part of what he does. He rarely looks up at those who dance blissfully around him. But Jeff Bujak is a vehicle; he vibrates; he is a high signal tower through which some nameless gods of progressive music do their bidding. _ Sam Spokony March 10, 2011 O-Town Scene 19

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