Avidya & the Kleshas at Rockwood Music Hall

Avidya & the Kleshas, Rockwood Music Hall, June 5, 2013. Screen grab from RifRaf Magazine video.

Avidya & the Kleshas, Rockwood Music Hall, June 5, 2013. Screen grab from RifRaf Magazine video.

Avidya & the Kleshas played a short, tight set last week at Rockwood Music Hall’s Stage 2. The band was celebrating the release of its CD, “Tree of Series.”  Looking a bit like a young Barbara Streisand a la “Stony End,” band leader Stephanie Carlton worked her way through a series a mostly mid-tempo hallucinatory, jazz fusion songs.

Her voice moved from a warble to a wail over the lush and measured tracks of her very able band (Xander Naylor, Javi Santiago, Russ Flynn, Wes Reid). Despite the improvised feel of much their music, this band is actually very polished and it was a pleasure to watch them hit their stride about midway through their set. You could really feel them working together as a unit, which in turn allowed Carlton to weave her vocals beautifully in the space they opened up for her.

There is a social/political element to the work, too, and in this sense there is just the slightest drop of punk in the mix- a pretty heady brew. At times I found myself thinking “Phoebe Snow backed by Steely Dan meets PJ Harvey.” Nice stuff!