In hip-hop, some acts feature poignant lyricists that move people with their words, while others feature enigmatic producers composing beats with the newest technology and methods, but Chicago's Sidewalk Chalk goes beyond and orchestrates truly complex and harmonized music with an ensemble of seven instrumentalists and vocalists, with Jumaane Taylor sitting out this tour.
The group features a pair of horns with David Ben-Porat sliding nimble on the trombone, and Sam Trump with a razor sharp touch on the trumpet. Charlie Coffeen mans the keyboard and synthesizer for the group, delivering the background chords that hold the music together as well as his own active touch, matched by the four string styles of Garrett McGinn, while Tyler Berg supplies the beat and other percussion with a master's touch for intensity, and the use of silence. Sidewalk Chalk then complements this instrumental mesh with a vocal duo, combining Marga Vagle's jazzy melodic tunes with Rico Sisney's rapped verse, neither standing out over the music but rather creating a mélange of sound unparalleled by their contemporaries.
With Ernie, their custom painted school bus out front, the band came in to share three songs from their recent sophomore release "Leaves." They began with an ode to their former buses "Tommy & Donna," offering the strongest hip-hop flavor of the session before continuing on to the soulful "Fearless Passenger," a track that is bound to appeal to a wide audience of hip-hop, jazz and soul fans. Each of these tracks featured extended instrumental portions, bringing a live version feel to the recording, but the finale resembled the album version of "Luggage," a track that features Sam Trump offering some slightly humorous vocals in Vagle's place.
The session proved to be as fun as it was masterfully performed, bringing the highest levels of musicianship in the hip-hop world to KDHX.