About Puttanesca’s latest appearance at the Café Tropicale
Grey Burk from the LA Weekly raves:
“The final event, sold out though no one knew it would be the last, was an uproarious jazz funkdown by Joe Baiza Congress Of and sexalicious Beefheartian cabaret from the Baiza-Weba Garretson combo Puttanesca. Just a riot!…Guitar Joe jabs his thistly intrusions against the silken draperies of singer Weba Garretson in a swingy, bluesy Puttanesca (great new CD!), abetted by bassist Ralph Gorodetsky and drummer Wayne Griffin and it’s a sophisticrude delight. Eastside meets West, and everybody wins.”
– LA Weekly
“Puttanesca is a Special Sauce”
Seems like Joe Baiza is turning into the busiest man in show business town. In one week, his 80s beat-punk band, Sacharrine Trust opened for (by special request of the very lovely) Tortoise at the Troubador; a few days later Joe Baiza’s Congress of… absolutely, pitilessly tore up Taix, the venue where he’s now also somehow involved in drawing great and diverse bands for the monthly Joe Baiza night.
I ran into him in the parking lot after the Taix show, and between nips from his flask of Old Grandad which is onsale at Gelson’s this week, he gave me a copy of the recently released, long lost record from Puttanesca, the band he’d joined/formed, (it’s a long story), more than a decade ago, with vocalist, Weba Garretson, bassist, Ralph Gorodetsky and drummer, Wayne Griffin.
The recently reformed Puttanesca have been putting in some quite enthralling performances in support of the record. That vocalist Weba is one of the more intensely charismatic performers I’ve witnessed helps not a little. Damn! She captivates a room by moving across it, even before she opens her, well, let’s face it, rather generous mouth.
I guess you might be forgiven for thinking if you’re gonna call yourself Puttanesca you wouldn’t have any trouble tossing off a rather spicy album in a day or something… Originally recorded with Mark Wheaton at Catasonic in Echo Park, the record got itself shelved when the magic and momentum of the raw recordings and the live performances got somehow lost in the mix. Before it could be retrieved, Joe was a victim of a racist attack while touring in Germany. Some might call it attempted murder. As Weba says of the time, “Things began to unravel…” Just seems to be the way when you shoehorn so much talent into one band.
After ten years of contemplation and a myriad of other quite notable projects for each of the band members, the Puttanesca record finally arrives much closer to Joe Baiza’s original concept. Uncompromising and courageously stripped down; angular, trippy and raw. The beat of the drum, the bass and guitar is sheer and insistently clear. The vocals arc, arch and bend your will. Like a meeting between Dot Allison and the Gang of Four in a particularly troublesome part of town, the record is a bed of perfectly contemporary needles. It never lets me rest.
I’m scared to think what would happen if this music got out. It’s like that Outbreak virus: It’s hard to imagine anyone unscathed. Weba Garretson is an inescapable vocal presence. She’s operating with an overt feminist political agenda here, and her cloaking device is the fact that she’s a very silly woman who just happens to be in possession of a voice that could do anything — tall buildings, single bounds, the whole thing. She’s all that and more. Webaworld casts her in the role of delivering monologues and being an avant-garde lounge singer.
The free-form Welcome to Webaworld, Catasonic Records debut release, mixes lounge music, spoken word slam-poetry, slap happy basslines and a very weird sense of timing. There’s a bizarre pastiche of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” as an anti-rape anthem and an on-the-money take on the 007 trademark “Goldfinger.” Other high points include a slinky unauthorized bio on the photographer Diane Arbus and her monthly cycle (“Diane Arbus”) and Weba as a woman possessed with rage on a “I See A Smile.”
Bonus points for accordion.
– David Stratton, The Metropoliton
Puttanesca received airplay on
#1 on WMSE Milwaukee’s Jazz Chart
Top Ten WDCE Richmond, Virginia
and spins on “Jazz Brunch” by the venerable Jeff Turton @ WFNX Boston