Over the past few years, the Little Mountain Band has shifted its lineup to include new guitarist Drew Azzinaro and drummer Bene Torres, and in the process, has sharpened its focus. Already a strong outfit, one that arrived on the scene in 2003 just as a new movement of jam-based music was solidifying in our town, LMB found an added urgency in the interplay between co-founder Donovan Cudmore’s deep-rooted bass playing and Torres’ virtuosic drumming, and the twin guitars of co-founder Aaron Ziolkowski and Azzinaro.
LMB was ready for transformation when Torres and Azzinaro joined their ranks. They’d been working with revered area drummer Corey Kertzie for a good while, and Kertzie helped the band up its game. When Kertzie left the ranks to become a full-fledged member of renowned jam-grass band Big Leg Emma, the remaining members were dedicated to the idea of keeping that momentum going.
As the newly released “Great Karma Valley” makes clear, they’ve managed to do so. The level of band interplay, the depth and clarity of the recordings – tracked at Mark Studios in Clarence with the help of producer Fred Betschen – and the strength of the songwriting coalesce in service of a stirring fusion of jam-based influences. A deeply moving cover of the Grateful Dead’s “If I Had the World To Give” seals the deal.
You can find “Great Karma Valley” throughwww.littlemountainband.com, or sample some video and audio – and check upcoming live dates, including one at 8 p.m. Friday in Abbey Square (784 Wehrle Drive) – through ReverbNation.com/littlemountainband. Jeff Miers Buffalo News