On Friday night The People’s Key performed their Jazz Side of the Moon, a Conscious Keys production, for a packed room at The Stage at KDHX. When the doors opened, there was already a line of eager music fans waiting to get in. The intimate space was fully utilized with people pulling up chairs and sitting along the edge of the stage. The band consists of Ryan Marquez (Organ/Basskeys), Charlie Cerpa (Tenor Sax), Matt Rowland (Guitar), and Mike Murano (Drums). As The People’s Key took the stage they took a moment with the crowd to get us ready for their musical trip to the dark side of the moon. As they begun the rhythmic opening to Speak to Me/Breathe a fan exclaimed, “Let’s get weird!” …and so we did.
The four-piece jazz ensemble, clad in suave blazers and slacks, covered the full Dark Side of the Moon Pink Floyd album with the band’s unique twist. Their performance emphasized the Jazz nuances that can be found within the original versions. Each song transformed from a true cover to a full force jazz interpretation, including improvisations and high energy personal touches.
As they moved through the songs it was clear that each individual member of the group is expertly skilled in their instrument, each bringing a unique aspect to the music. Keyboardist, Marquez, impressed the crowd playing the role of both a hype-man for the group and a musician with adept talent. His soulful organ keys left the crowd reeling. True musical passion shone through in his constant smiles. On the saxophone, Cerpa enthralled the crowd with his solos—inciting wild applause even before the song was over. Murano, also of The Mighty Pines, wowed on the drums, especially during a solo, where he took off into an impressive salvo of drumrolls and beats. Guitarist, Rowland, certainly did David Gilmour justice with his jazzy guitar performance as well—which is no easy accomplishment. The instrumentals were truly moving and inspiring, an expertly composed tribute to the album.
The band’s connection with one another was tangible. Throughout the set, they consistently made eye contact and fed off each other’s ques. During each solo the other members would turn towards them attentively, offering encouraging smiles as each band member shared the spotlight. Their playing seemed to create a dialogue throughout the set, offering a musical conversation with each instrument answering back and forth. No matter how many times you’ve listened to the original album, or have seen acts like El Monstero, this Pink Floyd tribute experience was truly one-of-a-kind.
The crowd was treated with a jazz-funk fusion rendition of Another Brick in the Wall as an encore to wrap up the show, featuring striking vocals by Rowland. Even after the encore the crowd was shouting for more, unable to accept it was the end of the set. Though their time was up, the band took time to take a bow and mingle with the crowd afterwards.
The passion and exploration exhibited by the group was lovely to witness, they took old classics and turned them into a refreshing and mesmerizing jazz compositions. The crowd was hooked from the first chord to the last. It may seem daunting to most, to take on such a pivotal and infamous album as Dark Side of the Moon— yet these musicians handled it with expert precision and musical passion that knew no bounds.
Who are The People’s Key?
Hometown: St. Louis
Facebook: The People’s Key
Musical Interests: The Thin Dimes, Funky Butt Brass Band, Ptah Williams
Influences: Brian Blade, Lettuce, Art Blakey, Soulive
Label: Conscious Keys