The New York City Winter Jazz Festival was in full swing by Saturday evening. The annual event has grown into one of the city’s premiere music events each winter, and as the evening took hold on its second to last night, Kaki King, one of music’s most unique and versatile guitar players, took the small stage at the WNYC Studios in TriBeCa for her short, but one-of-a-kind performance.
King has earned the reputation as one of the truly unique and talented guitarists of her era, bringing an instrumental mix of jazz, classical, percussive, fret-tapping style to audiences around the world. She’s been personally invited to tour with the Foo Fighters, worked with Eddie Vedder on the Into The Wild film score, played guitar on some of the instrumental tracks in the musical film August Rush, and in case that wasn’t impressive enough for you, in 2006 Rolling Stone named her the youngest artist on their list of ‘New Guitar Gods’. Yeah, she’s that talented.
Saturday’s performance was my first time getting to see the guitarist live for the first time, and as the packed room expected, no one was left disappointed. Taking the stage in white jeans, white sweatshirt, and spruce pair or sunglasses, Kaki’s short, but very impressive set saw her throwing in her usual music of visual background elements with her melodic fingerpicking style on her white Ovation acoustic guitar. Her visual accompaniment was equally as impressive as her playing, as her setup includes special lighting that’s only projected onto the guitar, which ranges from glow in the dark to changing laser designs.
One of the cooler songs during her set came with a video-story of a lonely acoustic guitar lost in a world of flashy, and much cooler electrics. It was a perfect metaphor to King’s presence as a musician in 2016- signifying that mere talent and originality in a performance trumps flash any night on stage.
“I miss you guys, because I usually talk throughout my shows, but in this case I let the guitar do the talking for me,” King mentioned as she addressed the crowd at the end of the set.
As much as we all would’ve love to engage in deep conversation with you Miss. King, tonight getting to hear you through your instrumental brilliance easily sufficed.
Article: Tom Shackleford
Photos: Alx Bear