Jazz supergroup Omaha Diner put a smooth spin on Billboard Top 40 hits

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Omaha Diner | photo courtesy of the artist
Omaha Diner | photo courtesy of the artist

Let’s face it – no matter the size of their repertoire, jazz groups don’t make #1 hits these days, and haven’t for a couple of generations. So the irreverent foursome that makes up jazz supergroup Omaha Diner simply reversed the process: let the hits reach #1, then add them to the repertoire. “If it didn’t get to number one,” says the band’s motto, “we don’t play it.”

It’s a high bar for entry, no doubt, but it still makes for a ridiculously diverse setlist, which the band will bring to World Café Live tonight. Veering from “Single Ladies” to “Sixteen Tons” or from “Rolling in the Deep” to “Jumo” or “I Can’t Go For That,” the band doesn’t necessarily vouch for the musical quality of the songs that it tackles, but their commercial credibility is undeniable.

Of course, in the hands of this quartet, considerable virtuosity and a liberal dose of snark go hand in hand. Trumpeter Steven Bernstein is the founder of arched-eyebrow jazz bands like Sex Mob and Spanish Fly and has arranged music for Leonard Cohen, Levon Helm, and Lou Reed, among others. Charlie Hunter straddles the jazz and jam band worlds with his seven-string guitar, which he also wielded as a member of the 1990s combo T.J. Kirk, which played the music of Thelonious Monk, James Brown, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Drummer Bobby Previte emerged from the 1980s NYC Downtown scene alongside the likes of John Zorn and performs large-scale percussion-based compositions as well as angular jazz. And saxophonist Skerik is a founding member of groove-jazz bands Critters Buggin and Garage a Trois and a frequent collaborator with Primus’ Les Claypool.  Get to know Omaha Diner in the video below, and pick up tickets for their show here.

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