Origin: Boston, MA
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Formed in 1992, when several band members attended a summer program at Boston’s Berklee College of Music as teenagers, Lettuce was founded on a shared love of legendary funk artists like Earth, Wind & Fire and Tower of Power. After returning to Berklee as undergrads in 1994, Lettuce started playing in local clubs and steadily built up a following that soon extended to cities across the country and then throughout the world. Releasing their studio debut Outta Here in 2002 and its follow-up album Rage! in 2009, the band balanced their frequent touring with involvement in a host of other musical endeavors (including Evans and Krasno’s role as founding members of acclaimed soul/jazz trio Soulive).
The follow-up to 2012’s Fly, Crush is the new CD, infusing their psychedelic and hip-hop sensibilities into bass-heavy funk. With its spidery guitar work and hypnotic beats, “Phyllis” is a delicately sprawling epic that embodies what Deitch refers to as “a chill-hop vibe that’s kind of the flip-side of all that powerful uptempo funk that people might expect from us.” On “Get Greasy,” Lettuce give a nod to the groove-fueled EDM subgenre known as future funk, building off its highly danceable rhythm with a blissfully loose and horn-laced arrangement. And on “He Made a Woman Out of Me,” guest vocalist Alecia Chakour lends her bluesy growl to a scorching take on Bobbie Gentry’s 1970 country-soul classic.
“This album is very much about the improvised grooves and improvised solos,” says Krasno. “Instead of going at it like, ‘Here’s a melody, now here’s a guitar solo, here’s another melody, here’s a sax solo,’ everyone’s leaning on each other in a way that’s completely unspoken. It’s all of us moving as one unit and creating this new sound together.”
So while Crush offers everything from all-out party jams to headphone-ready journeys into space funk, each track was born from an unabashed joy and love of live performance. “That energy we get when it’s prime time and we’re about to go onstage and we’re just excited beyond belief—that all came out on this new album,” says Deitch. “There’s a feeling that the band is rising, and it’s a really beautiful thing.”
Adam (Shmeeans) Smirnoff GUITAR
Adam Deitch DRUMS
Erick (Jesus) Coomes BASS
Ryan Zoidis ALTO, TENOR and BARI SAX
Eric Krasno GUITAR
Neal Evans ORGAN/KEYS
Eric Bloom TRUMPET