Zach Condon should need no introduction. He is the jazz trumpeter from Santa Fe, New Mexico who since 2006 has been tirelessly bridging cultural boundaries with his music creating a blend of sounds as unique as it is diverse. Tonight he played with his band Beirut at Rams Head Live, Baltimore.
An unlikely combination Beirut commingles the sounds of the mariachi and Balkan folk music. Like a modern day Béla Bartók, Zach Condon has traveled the Eastern European countryside absorbing the culture and incorporating it into his music. Beirut’s second EP The Flying Cup Club is a portrayal of Condon’s interest in French film and culture. Beirut’s third EP release March of the Zapotec was inspired by a trip to the state of Oaxaca in Mexico. Zach Condon puts more than just music into making an album. His albums reflect a truth based on personal experiences. An emotional link and understanding of culture expressed through music. Beirut is coming off their fifth album No No No, released September 11th, 2015. It’s an album more in tune with Beirut and the sound they have developed.
You would almost have to consider Beirut an ensemble more than anything else. The March of the Zapotec featured a 19-piece orchestra! Tonight Beirut included members Nick Petree, drums/percussion, Paul Collins, electric bass, Kyle Resnick, trumpet, Ben Lanz, trombone, Aaron Arntz, piano, accordion, and Zach Condon, trumpet, flugelhorn, and ukulele.
Beirut opened with “Scenic World” off their first album Gulag Orkestar. The sound was calming like a pastoral sonata. Aaron Arntz on accordion added a breath of life. Music has always been a means of imitating nature. This song is a perfect example of taking the world around you and translating it into a beautiful expression. Most of the songs tonight fit this aesthetic. A serene setting complimented with acceptance. Songs such as “Elephant Gun” observe routine changes, like the change of seasons. It’s like celebrating normality. The live performance only enhances these sensations. It’s like amplified art.
Overall Beirut sounded fantastic! The horns and accordion meshed so well together. Kyle Resnick and Ben Lanz playing in unison created a timbre that was pleasant to absorb. The track “The Akara” was an absolute favorite. Condon’s singing voice is so mystical during that song. It captures you and sets your soul free.
Beirut played a number of favorites such as “Postcards From Italy,” and “The Riptide.” They played their new song “No No No.” This song is a step in a positive direction. That is the sentiment I feel when listing to it. Another aspect about “No No No” that really peaks my interest is the inclusion of early electronic sounds and retro electronic sounds. I also noticed these types of sounds when they played the song “After the Curtain.”
The show really picked up during the latter half. For an encore, they played “Serbian Cocek” a Hawk and Hacksaw cover. I really enjoyed this number, it has some good instrumentation. Ben Lanz lets loose a booming trombone solo. This song reminded me of a Lian Ballamy composition. It got people dancing. They closed out the rest of their encore with “The Gulag Orkestar“, “Mausoleum” and “The Flying Cup Club.” The song “In the Mausoleum” is a brilliant piece of composition. It was definitely a highlight of the show.
This was a great concert. The sound was beautiful and inspiring. Going to a Beirut concert is being at peace with yourself and your surroundings.