Scot Ray - tuba
Brad Dutz - percussion
Matt Zebley - woodwinds
*special guest Bill Barrett - chromatic harmonica
Reviews from 1999-2000:
"………...one of the finest new CDs on the indie jazz scene is a thing called Kingcake."
- Michael Davis, New Times Los Angeles
"Tuba-driven, quirky, and fun, KINGCAKE.....indulges in a kind of under-the-big-top showmanship that's simultaneously serious and sly. By merging compositional precision with free-leaning improv and - at times - a clownish sense of humor, the band forms a pliable, entertaining music that's sharply focused. With tunes largely revolving around Scot Ray's bubbly bounce on the burliest of brass instruments, the band evokes lowdown Nawlins funk and pomo-bop sparkle with a combination of LA style and trad-jazz substance. Woodwind player Matt Zebley further invokes the spirit of the legendary Eric Dolphy every time he busts a bent blue note on his tone-rich bass clarinet. It's a welcome allusion and a snug fit with the leader's plump grooves and Brad Dutz's multi-phonic percussion, which bobs to and fro in its dual role as rhythmic anchor and melodic colorist. The group's crafty three-ring circus will dazzle jazz fans across the spectrum."
- Sam Prestani, San Francisco Weekly
"What a combination! ...three outcats swinging on a star and creating aural landscapes. They interact with considerable cohesion, like longtime friends who know each other’s moves. Full of life and rooted in the New Orleans tradition, Kingcake finds a way to tie together the beginning and the end of our first jazz century. Highly recommended." - Jim Santella, Allaboutjazz.com
"I thought I'd heard it all in 50 years of jazz collecting but Kingcake is definitely different. They have a style that is in a category all by itself. Call it 'free jazz' or....'New Orleans in the 4th Dimension'. You might feel as I do that Kingcake is a whittled down version of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band with a 'sense of humor'. Expect some pyrotechnics from tuba player, Scot Ray who shows a beautiful command of the brass bass. I really liked this little band from South Pasadena and would love to see them on stage!"
- Richard Bourier, Jazzreview.com
"Drawing on high-stepping New Orleans funk and free jazz, swamp music and R&B, cartoon music and gospel, Kingcake rewrites the rules in its own antic image. Listening to Kingcake, part of the fun is figuring out how they've wrenched the conventions of a particular style and redesigned them for their own ends. Or you can just sit back and marvel at the dexterity with which the band blends roots music and 21st century funk." - Andrew Gilbert, San Jose Mercury News
“Kingcake - featuring percussionist supreme Brad Dutz, whose every tick and thump turns into musical magic - put on one of the more entertaining as well as interesting performances this reviewer has witnessed in his over 50 years of following jazz. Their album, Kingcake, is definitely one of the most intriguing artistically as well as entertaining ones of the year. Bound to appeal to jazz fans of any persuasion.”
- Russell Roberts, L.A. Jazz Scene
“Kingcake is a darn good time. Is this a woodwinds-tuba trio? Or is it a marching band? After you begin listening you won’t care: you’re too busy smiling and tapping your feet to “volkswagon”’s opening groove. Kingcake’s tough to pigeonhole. But then you put it all together: it’s Mardi Gras. These guys will surprise you: Dutz’s “dolphy” is disarmingly beautiful. Zebley’s range, it appears, extends to the entire family of saxophones and clarinets, while Dutz is as comfortable on the drum kit as he is on congas or bells or vibes. It never feels like show-and-tell: their choices are sensible, even charming in spots. Kingcake’s eccentric menu is challenging, and it’s even harder to groove in this configuration: but this seems to be Kingcake’s raison d’être. “the elusive moment” or “chunk”, tuba ostinato below Zebley’s clarinet and saxophone, demand a dance floor. In any case, they certainly seem to be having a ball.”
- Greg Buium, Cadence Magazine, NY