(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – Sex Mob, trumpeter Steven Bernstein’s wild and wooly avant-jazz party band, performs its brand-new original score to a live screening of “Maciste in Hell,” a seminal film of the Italian silent era, in Club B-10 at MASS MoCA on Saturday, April 4, 2015, at 8pm. The movie stars Bartolomeo Pagano as Maciste, a Herculean strongman whose physical prowess and matching virtue are tested when the Devil and his minions capture him and drag him to hell. Fellini cites the film as one that inspired him to lead a life in cinema.
Originally formed as a vehicle for Steven Bernstein and his slide trumpet, Sex Mob quickly evolved to serve a much nobler purpose. Immediately after Bernstein assembled his band, including Briggan Krauss on alto sax, Tony Scherr on bass, and Kenny Wollesen on drums, Sex Mob began a residency at the Knitting Factory in Manhattan, largely playing Bernstein’s original compositions. During a special evening of film music, however, the audience went crazy for the James Bond theme. Bernstein and his band realized that audiences engage more with music they recognize, and Sex Mob’s legacy would be forever changed.
Sex Mob immediately expanded its catalog to include familiar favorites whose melodies were strong enough to withstand extensive deconstruction: the Rolling Stones, Prince, the Grateful Dead, and even the “Macarena” easily secured spots in Sex Mob’s repertoire. While Sex Mob refrains from the old, tired jazz standards of yore, its identity as a jazz band is unwavering: John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Lester Young, and plenty of other jazz greats all got famous by playing popular tunes with which their audiences could identify. As Bernstein said, “They played the songs that everyone knew, and because [the audience] could recognize the song, then that invited them into their style.”
Recently, Sex Mob’s efforts have focused on film: for their 2013 CD release, “Cinema, Circus & Spaghetti (Sex Mob Plays Fellini: The Music of Nino Rota),” Steven Bernstein chose to sample from five different soundtracks composed by Nino Rota for the films of Italian auteur Federico Fellini. After playing the arrangements on tour for a year, the quartet recorded the entire album in a single day. Over their two decades playing together, the quartet has become a Grammy Award-nominated jazz band whose mission is to “put the fun back in jazz music.” They have proven and will continue to prove their innate ability to deconstruct the old and rebuild anything with a Sex Mob twist — whether it is a popular chart-topper, a ubiquitous theme song, or even a film itself.
“Maciste in Hell” along with a live score by Sex Mob screens in Club B-10 on Saturday, April 4, at 8pm. Dinner and snacks are available from Lickety Split before and during the show. A full bar serves Berkshire Brewing Company beers and Berkshire Mountain Distillery spirits. Tickets are $8 for students, $12 in advance, $18 day of, and $24 preferred.
Tickets for all events are available through the MASS MoCA box office located on Marshall Street in North Adams, open 11am – 5pm Wednesdays through Mondays; closed Tuesdays through Spring 2015. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during box office hours or purchased on-line at MASS MoCA. All events are held rain or shine.