Never thought I’d hear Rolling Stone’s Cocksucker Blues and a cover of Ben, the sentimental song Michael Jackson made famous at age 14, on the same playlist. But that’s the way it played last night at Rothschild 12. Ravid Kahalani and Uzi Ramirez (together they are the Black Bruises) dazzled with song after song, a journey in shades of red and violet. Dancing through time, moods and rhythms shifting with the speed and force of seismic vibrations, the transitions so smooth you just float inside that music and let it shatter you, lift you up, break you down and dance you around.
The rapport between the two musicians and the ease of their artistry infused the night with an intimate feel. Kahalani’s vocals and Ramirez’s guitar breathe and flow together, with unexpected phrasing, intriguing riffs, and a range as wide as the horizon. From Skip James – I’m So Glad, to traditional tunes like In the Pines (around late 1870s) with its harrowing, mournful notes, and the later Death Don’t Have No Mercy, to the in-your-face howl “where can I get my cock sucked?” with Michael Jackson’s Earth Song (1995) and yes, Ben, somehow all flowing into one another. Waiting for next time these two wizards get together and do this again.