Tea Leaf Green

Vinyl, Oct. 12

The last time I saw Tea Leaf Green live, in 2005, the San Francisco-based jam band had already earned a reputation as dynamic performers. But a couple of lineup changes in recent years have expanded the band’s musical palette, even as their songwriting has become more concise.

Keyboardist Trevor Garrod, with his old-timey, Dylanesque vocal style, led the country-blues of opener “I’ve Got a Truck” while guitarist Josh Clark gave a guttural reading of the Meat Puppets’ cover “Lake Of Fire.” The 2007 addition of former Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey bassist Reed Mathis gives Tea Leaf Green a third vocalist, one who can sing high harmonies, as well as an otherworldly musician who can solo in the upper register and play in a variety of styles.

Newer tunes such as “All Washed Up,” a rhythmic journey fueled by dual drummers Scott Rager and Cochrane McMillan, who joined the lineup last year; electro-funk jam “Germinating Seeds” and the swirling “Fallen Angel” demonstrated Tea Leaf Green’s continual evolution into a more song-oriented band while still allowing the musicians room to stretch.

Garrod, Clark and Mathis all took turns soloing throughout the 100-minute set, continually finding new avenues in which to travel, but always returning to the melody before the music flattened out. With this five-piece lineup, Tea Leaf Green has moved yet closer to the perfect balance of exploration and constraint. ★★★☆☆

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With so many doses of rock, reggae, punk and hip-hop, it was challenging to really find a groove during the 75-minute set from Hermosa Beach, Calif.’s Tomorrows Bad Seeds. While the sound may have jumped genres, the one consistency was lead singer Moises Juarez’s vocals, which displayed his range as an accomplished musician, even as the band bounced back and forth. Outside of an odd but quick hip-hop, b-boy session where Juarez showed his breaks, it was all business as the band riffled through tracks from their three albums.

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