Opek is a project of Pittsburgh saxophonist/composer/innovator, Ben Opie. I’ve been going to Opek shows since around 2003, so they’ve been around at least 10 years or so. As mentioned in my previous post, Opek was originally sort of a Sun Ra cover band. Their first few shows show consisted mostly of Sun Ra compositions. After those shows, they broadened their sets to include many of Ben’s own compositions as well as pieces by Miles Davis, Anthony Braxton and even James Brown.
On Friday at Pittsburgh’s New Hazlett Theater, the program was entitled “Mostly Sun Ra” which as the name suggests, featured almost all Sun Ra compositions with at least one of Opie’s (“Little Wrenches”) thrown in. They touched upon a wide range of styles from swing to funk. They even included a couple of Opie’s arrangements of Sun Ra compositions that were never recorded.
This set was truly phenomenal. I cover these guys (Opek, Thoth Trio, Flexure, etc.) quite a bit on the blog, mostly as part of the Space Exchange Series at the Thunderbird Cafe. But, I’m hard pressed to find anyone else in town that is pushing the concept of jazz forward while making it so enjoyable.
Here are a couple of videos I shot from the show. Enjoy!