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12/7/00 Michael Sokolowski and Houston Ross at the Prism Coffeehouse

I used to check these guys out every Thursday at the short-lived Main Street Guitar & Drum (where the Marriot now sits). Soko, their new-world-jazz power trio collaboration with drummer Johnny Gilmore, laid out a deep and funky blend of piano-fronted future-jazz/soul for 20 or so of us amazed and enthused onlookers.

Nowadays, Ross and Gilmore are the backbone of the Wonderband (Wednesday nights at Michael's Bistro, and Sokolowski hauls his solo piano meditations to Miller's every other Monday or so, but there's been a serious dearth of full-on Soko ruminations.

It's too bad. Here's a band whose first record, In November Sunlight, sported cameos by both Dave Matthews and Leroi Moore, a band fronted by Michael Sokolowski 給 one of Tim Reynolds' most frequent collaborators 給 a dude so transcendentally cross-pollinated that WTJU's local jazz artist round-up egregiously overlooked him despite his spokesmanship for the medium and his work as one of its more progressive and expressive local purveyors for over a decade. Perhaps some geniuses (and I do not wish to wield the term lightly) are just meant to suffer the occasional loneliness of a fickle and unimpressbale audience. It's a shame.

Sokolowski and his insipred union with the two baddest rhythm players on the village scene are a worthy distraction, and the community would do well to recognize them as some of the more sigfificant, high-brow cross-over jam/jazz in Charlottesville's simple interior.

At the Prism, Sokolowski and Ross pulled off a nice low-key variation of the Soko groove on acoustic piano and upright bass. rolling rather mellowly through a few In November Sunlight pieces and some other nice jams for the better part of an hour. It was refreshing but short-lived, and I couldn't help but when the duo will once again incorporate Gilmore to bring forth the extended high-octane version of the combo. Soon, I hope.

— Cripsy Duck, Cripsy's Crawl, C-VILLE Weekly, December 19, 1999



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