Dirk Quinn Band

East Kootenay News Online Weekly

A jazz concert with a difference at Studio 64

By Mike Redfern

When Kimberley Arts Council’s Live@Studio 64 committee invited the Dirk Quinn Jazz Quartet to open the fall jazz and blues concert season on September 21, little did they know what they were in for.

The band’s billing as a funk jazz improv band, while suggesting that their music would be contemporary in style, didn’t really give much of a clue about what the audience might expect. And when, following a brief introduction by MC Keith Nicholas, the band launched into its first number with no further words from band leader Dirk Quinn, we still had no idea what was coming.

That first number, an intense instrumental that lasted about 12 minutes, left many of us bemused; intrigued, impressed, maybe a little awestruck, but still not quite understanding what it was we had been listening to.

Throughout the concert, the band performed as it might in a recording studio, alternating the intricate melodic leads between Quinn on lead guitar and Cody Munzert on keyboard and synthesizer. Rory Flynn’s long fingers adapted to the changing rhythms on bass guitar and Charan Singh’s sticks provided precise, sometimes delicate but mainly driving rhythms on drums. Such communication as took place, other than through the music, was the occasional laugh or nod between Quinn and Munzert as they switched leads or changed up the rhythm.

As the concert proceeded, Munzert created an ever widening range of instrumental sounds from his synthesizer, from backing guitars to xylophone to wild animals shrieking in the jungle!

All four musician were excellent instrumentalists and the pieces they played, which this listener assumed were original creations from their three albums, none of them being introduced by title, were fascinating.

They lacked recognizable melodies, with occasional exceptions, as when Quinn picked out a line from the Beatles’ ‘Eleanor Rigby’, which produced an appreciative sigh from an audience glad to recognize a tune. Live@Studio 64 committee chair, Keith Nicholas, said after the show: “That was a great band ….. I loved how they weaved The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, etc., into their improvisations. They certainly had the audience spellbound and me for one in awe at their virtuosity.”

From their hometown in Philadelphia, the band was on a tour across the USA, with this one jog north to Kimberley their only Canadian gig.

During the past decade the band released three albums, Quinntet in 2008, Live at Home in 2012, and Infinite Game in 2018, which have received over 100 plays on American radio stations.

If this concert was anything to go by, their reputation as a great instrumental contemporary jazz band is only going to grow. The Dirk Quinn Jazz Quartet certainly provided a memorable start to this fall’s Live@Studio 64 concert season.

Photos by Rod Wilson






The Herald Palladium

Dirk Quinn, the guitarist and namesake of the Philadelphia-based funk/jazz outfit the Dirk Quinn Band, names off a list of influences.

In that list are ones you might expect from a guitarist with an ear for jazz, and a dose of rock ’n’ roll swagger. There’s classic rock staples such as Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, and jazz legends such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and Dave Brubeck. The list becomes more interesting and decidedly telling the deeper Quinn goes – Béla Fleck, John Scofield, Ahmad Jamal, Jaco Pastorius and so on.

A listen to Quinn’s own music makes it clear just how such a diverse group of musicians have shaped the sound of his fusion outfit, which also includes Steve Zegray (drums), Scott Coulter (keys) and Rory Flynn (bass).

Quinn released his self-titled debut in 2007, followed three years later by “QuinnTet,” and his latest, 2012’s “Live at Home,” featuring tracks recorded over five different shows in and around Philadelphia. In October, the band is returning to the studio to record the long-awaited, as-yet-untitled fourth album. In the meantime, the band has been road testing material, and will do so again on Friday at The Livery when they kick off a weekend-long 11th anniversary celebration for the brewery.

Reached by phone from his home in Pennsylvania, Quinn talked about the show, the forthcoming album and more.

Q I understand you are planning on heading back into the studio soon. What can you tell me about your next project?

A Yeah, it’s long overdue. The reason is because I’ve been juggling band members. Since we released that live album in 2012 we’ve had maybe four bass players and maybe just as many keyboard players. I’ve been waiting to make sure the lineup was solid before taking us into the studio. This particular lineup has been together now for two years so I’m pretty confident nobody is going anywhere, and everybody is OK with the amount of work that we are doing. The last album was live, and I’m glad we did it that way, but this album I wanted to approach it differently. ... I want to go in during October, and bang out the album in a week. In the past I have had a tough time releasing something where I know it could be better in some way. I’m trying to cure myself of that. I want to have an album where we are going to knock it out, warts and all, and I’m going to be happy with it. Well, OK, maybe I won’t be happy with it, but we are going to release it anyway.

Q You’ve been playing some of that material in your live show, so are there a couple of tunes that maybe we can talk about and highlight?

A Sure. There’s a song called “Overcat.” It’s hard to say the name of the song without telling the joke behind it. We wanted a song that was basically the opposite of underdog. We’ve been playing that out. We also have been doing a song called “Uh Oh, Chicago,” which is probably my favorite song that we’ve been doing. I look forward to that every night. ... The backstory of that song is, every time we went to Chicago there would be an incident with one of the band members. Somebody would get too drunk or get in some kind of trouble – getting kicked out of bars or sleeping on people’s lawns. It was ridiculous. Every time we went to Chicago something like this would happen. So when the band started seeing Chicago on a list of upcoming dates, someone would inevitably say, “Uh Oh, Chicago.” I would like to say that we’ve successfully played Chicago at least five times incident free. I’m hoping those days are behind us, but it makes a great story.

Q It seems like bands such as yours thrive on the live environment and have a hard time recreating that in the studio. Was that the motivation for doing the live album, and what did you learn from that experience?

A Absolutely. It certainly was, but it was also much cheaper to record five shows than go into the studio and record. So it was as much an economic decision as it was an artistic philosophical decision. When you are playing live, the crowd is another member of the band. The end result is a conversation not only between members on stage but with the crowd, and I wanted to capture that on a recording. But the one thing I did notice when I listen back to that is, because you are in the moment and the crowd’s energy is high, you can tend to have a little more swagger in your playing, which for the whole album is maybe too much. Just in my own playing, I see places where I could have been a little more subtle and would have been in the studio. You can’t be subtle in front of the crowds we are playing. So I’m looking forward to doing that on this next album.

Q Where did you go up, and how did music first come into your life?

A I grew up in the suburbs of Philly, about an hour north of the city in Green Lane, Pa. My mother played a 12-string acoustic guitar. She would have these parties where her friends would sit in a circle and they would all play Simon & Garfunkel. I gravitated to it immediately, but she didn’t start teaching me to play until I was 15, so I was pretty old. After she taught me a few chords, she ended up giving me that 12-string. The guitar I learned on took a lot of finger strength, which I think helped when I switched to a six-string and I just haven’t looked back.

Q You obviously listened to rock as a teenager so what was it that opened your ears to jazz and made you go that route as a musician?

A The rock that I liked was not necessarily song-based or lyric-based. It was sound-based. I loved Led Zeppelin for the music not for whatever Robert Plant was going on about it. It was all about the overall sound. So it was a pretty easy transition to go from listening to bands like Zeppelin and Pink Floyd that jammed and had these extended songs and memorable riffs and sounds to something that was completely instrumental. Jeff Beck was probably the first instrumental musician I listened to and after that it was John McLaughlin with (the jazz-rock fusion group) Mahavishnu Orchestra. They are coming from like a rock attitude, but the sound appealed to me and I got curious about jazz and picked up (Miles Davis’) “Kind of Blue” and he was saying so much without using words. I felt it was more universal than a song where a lyricist is telling you what the song is about. It resonates on a deeper level. That really appealed to me, and still does.

Tie Your Shoes Reviews


Surgeon General’s warning: If you are allergic to glowing adjectives, effusive superlatives and the occasional hyperbole, please skip the remainder of this review and the next three Bear Creek installments.

Still with me? OK, but you have been warned.

Most festival-goers have a favorite. Mine is Bear Creek. This is my sixth trip to the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Florida, and every one has been an incredible musical journey.

Confession: when I looked at the line-up, I failed to look at the bottom of the list, where Paul Levine was clearly “hiding” the names of the artists-at-large, so I didn’t notice any ‘old-school’ representatives. Certainly, headliners Lettuce, the New Mastersounds, Dumpstafunk and Soulive (plus skyrocketing The Nth Power) anchored the festivities properly, but about that bench strength? I was concerned.

I love being wrong. I must. I mean, I am wrong so often. This time, stupendously wrong. Bear Creek 2014 was mind-blowing, start to finish.

I have two mantras. The first is a general remark about music: make sure to check out bands you’ve never heard about before. There will always be wonderful surprises.


You may recall that I never make it to the Sunday afternoon > evening finale with the aforementioned headliners. To many, that must seem sacrilegious. I simply cannot swing three days off from school, and Thursday is sacred to me. Bear Creek Thursdays have always been amazing, but this… this… this was infinity… and beyond!

Music began at 2 PM. By 6, I’d already received my money’s worth of music. By the time the Main Squeeze shut down the Music Hall at 2:45 AM, I declared this as great a day of music as I’ve ever heard. (And there are three more to go!)

IMG_2483aEvery year, the first band I’ve seen at BC has set the tone for the weekend (Shak Nasti, the Heavy Pets, London Souls, Savi Fernandez Band, Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes). This year, it was the triple punch of the first three bands. Freddy’s Finest, a quintet out of the ATL, got the honor of opening the proceedings. It’s a mixed blessing, because many people are still arriving, and most don’t get to the park until Friday, some not until Saturday.

Freddy’s Finest came out smoking hot, jazzy funk jams filling the air while tents and campsites were popping up throughout the 600 acres of woods. The festy kids at Buffalo’s Amphitheater stage had a great time dancing and nodding, enjoying the official kick-off. Freddy’s Finest did us all proud.IMG_2486

The Dirk Quinn Band then amped up on DC’s Forest Stage (newly located just beyond the main festival grounds fences up the hill from the amphitheater). DQB, from the City of Brotherly Love, play engaging jammy rock, and everybody was digging the groove. Leader Quinn was a great front man and fine guitar slinger.

Mantra Number Three: IT’S THE RHYTHM SECTION, STUPID! (I’m talking to me, not you!) A powerful bass-and-drums combo is essential to success in this environment.  FF had the formula down, and DQB even more so. A strong “Cissy Strut” in the middle of great originals gave everybody room to groove.

IMG_2490Back down the hill, there is simply no way we could have been prepared for what was about to unfold on stage as the Funky Knuckles (from Dallas) unveiled a brilliant set. The sextet strode confidently from Shorter/Hubbard/Jazz Messengers grooves to deep Brecker Brothers funk. Kenny Harvey (bass for Holey Miss Moley) and I just stood there with our jaws on the ground. They were magnificent (the band, not our jaws).

The Broadcast pairs a strong female singer with a superb band. This was not my favorite set, but the quartet is very strong, and her stage presence is engaging. I’ll check them out again, but I wanted to get to the Music Hall to see Herd of Watts. I had seen a brief portion of their Orange Blossom Jam set last May and said then I needed a second shot. I don’t remember what I heard at OBJ, but the Herd of Watts set at BC was about two light years beyond.

IMG_2494They were excellent. HoW features the same instrumentation as the Funky Knuckles (guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, trumpet and tenor sax), presented differently. Whereas the trumpet and tenor sax were out front for FK, the HoW horns stood toward the back of the stage. They were no less effective, however, in funking up the place. Jam, rock, funk, jazz – like most of the bands on our scene, and especially those at BC, these boys are can do it all. Their set featured lots of great original tunes and a knock-out version of The Who’s “Eminence Front.” (Does anybody know what that song means? I have no clue. Doesn’t matter; I love it.) The nearly full Music Hall on an early Thursday was a welcoming sight. And it turns out I was camped right next to this group; they made great neighbors!

Because of the first real music overlap, I missed much of the set by See-I. During their sound check earlier, they laid down some superb straight-ahead jazz grooves. In performance, they are primarily a reggae hip-hop band. Normally, this would have been of marginal interest, but the band played so well, and the singers were so positive and engaging that they drew me in. See-I is also an acronym for State, Elaborate, Exemplify and Illustrate. It is a perfect description of the band’s musical message and delivery. And they quoted Chuck Brown: “I feel like bustin’ loose…”

From the amphitheater back to the forest, Locos Por Juana offered an interesting variation with Latino-reggae themes. Once again, the band was rock solid, often featuring their fine tenor sax player. The exuberant vocalist and front man was a treat to watch.

IMG_2496I bailed early, but only because I wanted to hear S.P.O.R.E. again. I had seen this Jacksonville band this summer (down a guitar), and they were superb. How would they be at full strength? Absolutely incredible, it seems. They were just blasting, funking, jamming, rocking, throwing down song after song with exuberant abandon. Somebody had told me S.P.O.R.E. planned to blow it up in the Music Hall. Truer words…

Early in the set, they called up guitar monster Savi Fernandez to join them on “Innoculate,” and he ripped a superb solo. I don’t know if this was the only opportunity he got to play all weekend, but I was sure glad I caught this one.

Zach Deputy was holding forth at the amphitheater. If you could not see the stage and only hear him, you’d swear there was an entire band behind him. There are other talented loopers out there, Keller first and foremost, Legacy in Central Florida, but Zach has a magic spin to his approach. In the thesaurus, ‘Zach Deputy’ is synonymous with ‘infectious’ and ‘irresistible.’ He was hitting an island groove when I arrived, later shifting to even heavier funk and a bit of James Brown’s “I Got the Feelin’.”

Austin’s Mingo Fishtrap had the next slot on the Forest stage, and they made the most of it. The vocalist reminded me simultaneously of Jans Ingber of the Motet and David Shaw of the Revivalists, visually and aurally. Punchy horns delivered the funk in flurries.

When I last saw Orgone in January in Jacksonville (with the New Mastersounds and Monophonics, just before they jumped on the Jam Cruise), I was totally knocked out. Singer Adryon deLeon was great, band leader/guitarist/singer Sergio Rios was amazing, and the band was on the one, but for me the star was bassist Tim Glum. He owned the evening.

Fast-forward to Bear Creek. This time, it was bassist Dale Jennings who stole the show (and the night)! You know how I feel about rhythm sections. If I never see another performer at Bear Creek impress me more than Jennings this night at the amphitheater, I will notbe surprised. Wikipedia says “Orgone energy is a hypothetical universal life force originally proposed in the 1930s by Wilhelm Reich.” For me, this band puts theory into practice!

For those who understand the reference, singer deLeon is a soul belter who reminds me of Candy Givens of Zephyr. She was lit up all evening, and Rios was superb and fun to watch. This was as great a funk performance as I have ever seen, and I’m going back to Sly, P-Funk, EW&F and Graham Central Station.

When they hit “Time is Tight,” I was beyond bliss, and the band just kept knocking out song after amazing song. These seem to be a bunch of new compositions, based on not seeing any of them on setlists as recent as August. “You Are the Sun,” “Keep the Fires Burning” and “Love is the Answer” were equally impressive (and I’m guessing at actual titles).

My musical ignorance potentially on display, she had a beautiful alto voice, although it could soar to the stratosphere when called upon. That provided an interesting comparison to follow.

IMG_2500almost didn’t go to the Music Hall to see the Main Squeeze. That would have been a HUGE mistake! The band had similar instrumentation to Orgone and a very similar feel. Here was the fascinating part. Vocalist Corey Frye’s alto voice was a near-perfect match to deLeon’s! Very cool! It worked perfectly in back-to-back sets like these.

Once again, the playing was superb. After knocking out a few great tunes, they were joined by the name at the bottom right on the list of artists-at-large (you know, the part of the list I didn’t read): Brandon ’Taz’ Niederauer. Write that name down now, because you’ll be hearing it endlessly in the near future — and on the lips of every Bear Creeker.

Taz is a superb guitar player with great technique, nice use of pedals, and amazing musical ideas and invention. Did I mention that he is ELEVEN YEARS OLD? Looks about four feet tall? Awed all of the musicians at Bear Creek? A straight-A student? Seriously, many, many adults I have heard on guitar don’t have his chops OR his ability to solo.

After Taz’s spot, they covered MJ’s “Off the Wall,” which was OK. Some time and several good originals later, they let a spacy jam lead its way into “No Quarter.” Zeppelin? From a funk band? Hell, yeah!

The day’s statistics: 12 performances seen, 8 new bands, 2 I’d only seen one. I liked everything, and seven sets were excellent. What a superb day and way to start Bear Creek 2014!

Great seeing my peeps at Short-Cut Camp (more about all of them in a later installment), the Herd of Watts folks, Kenny (HMM), Captain Mark, Paul Levine, Rev. Hugh and Jenifer.

Hey! Where’s Dale?


Herald Journal

Funk-jazz group Dirk Quinn Band performs Thursday at Independent Public Alehouse


Dirk Quinn
Published: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at 1:00 p.m.

Listening to the music of the Philadelphia-based Dirk Quinn Band, it's hard to believe that their guitarist's namesake cut his teeth on Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and Primus. His smooth, fluid fretwork can dazzle and soothe, and the band's funk/jazz chops incorporate improvisation without sounding harsh or atonal.

Over the course of three albums, the band seems a lot more interested in groove than crunch, although, on its most recent release, 2012's "Live at Home," it does nod towards classic rock by covering Pink Floyd's "The Great Gig in the Sky."

Perhaps the roots are hard to hear because Quinn's musical exploration took a hard turn into jazz giants such as Miles Davis and John Coltrane, and he only truly developed his own style when he embraced free improvisation.

"It wasn't until I started listening to more abstract jazz that I really started finding myself musically," Quinn said. "Jazz, as I define it, is improvisation. The best improvisers are the ones that completely surrender themselves to the moment, allowing that higher oneness to communicate through them and through the band collectively.

"The freedom of that art form and the collective improvisation associated with it spoke to the core of my being. When you get 4 or 5 incredible and experienced musicians on a stage all playing in the moment with no preconception as to what might happen next, magic tends to be the result. It's scary stuff, though; you're putting yourself out there without a net."

Quinn has a similar affection for funk, which he and his band (drummer Steve Zegray, bassist Scott Ziegler and keyboard player Scott Coulter) weave into its music expertly.

"There's something intangible about funk that elicits very strong, positive emotion from both the listener and the musicians themselves," he said. "I can't name another musical genre that feels as primal or as honest. It has the ability to tap into, and remind us of, a deep interconnectedness that's difficult to describe but that we all know and feel intuitively. But, at the same time, funk is extremely whimsical."

Though Quinn has served as bandleader and, until recently, primary composer, he is quick to credit the musicians who've played in his band, both past and present.

"I've been extremely fortunate to get to play with some of the best musicians around," he said. "In music, as in life, each interaction changes you to varying degrees. I've had players in the band that have pushed me technically to be a better player and ones that have pushed me a great deal on the theory side of things.

"Some players have pushed me to grow spiritually, some have opened my ears to new styles of music, and some I credit with really helping me to become a better businessman as well. Music is a lifelong learning process, and I'm a firm believer that you can learn something from everyone."

Tri-State Indie

Dirk Quinn and Michael Gilbert Ronstadt Serve More Than Coffee at Steel City

Hearing or Reading words like AcousticImprovisation, and Strings, may bring associations like Tranquility,Poise, and Dexterity to mind. But upon seeing these “experience placeholders” exhibited live, words vanish and “I FEEL IT ALL” like Feist. The Acoustic Dirk Quinn Band and Michael Gilbert Ronstadt Improvisational String Quartet…er…Trio brought intense vibrations of sound, spirit, light, and emotion to the Steel City Coffee House in Phoenixville, PA.

Dirk Quinn Band with Michael Ronstadt. Photo by Karl McWherter.

Dirk Quinn Band with Michael Ronstadt. Photo by Karl McWherter.

When the Dirk Quinn Band took the stage, there was a sonic swoosh of pent up energy—a release of residual joules generated by Ronstadt and Co., coupled with the wattage running through the band, searching for the perfect receiver—an audience that was passionately primed, willing, and caffeinebriated. This particular lineup included Dirk Quinn on acoustic guitar, Steve Zegray on drums, Max Swan on saxophone, Scott Ziegler on bass, Michael Borowski on keys, and Juan Greenberg on didgeridoo. They ripped through songs like “P/Melt”, “Davel’s Return”, my hip-swiveling, soul-rolling, personal favorite “Eve”, and stinkyface-inducing “Evil Birdman of Funk”. Each musician put themselves on the line over and over and over, as I’ve seen them do so many times before but my words can never tell the entire story. Luckily, fellow musician Matthew Gordon hit Record during “P/Melt” to transmit the DQB to you too. You can hear these songs and many more on Live At Home, released in 2012. (See review here.)

Tri-State Indie

Dirk Quinn Band Revisited

The DQB has evolved a bit since my last sighting as they’ve added a new keyboardist, Scott Coulter (formerly of Psychedelphia), as well as bassist Clay Stiles (of LP Stiles). Dirk Quinn is still at the helm of this musical enterprise, along with saxophonist Max Swan, and drummer Steve “Zeeg” Zegray.

They began the night with the twists and turns, dives and jives of a song new to my ears, “Mustache Rock”, then went back in time into “P” and “Melt” from Dirk Quinn’s self-titled album. “Melt” drew me in easily and flowed like a dripping canvas which then got painted Pink…literally. The band slid into an instrumental cover of Pink Floyd’s “On the Turning Away” which I still hear faintly, even as I write.

When the band drifted into favorites from both Quinntet and Live at Home, my skin rippled with excitement. Songs like “Eve” (with Michael Borowski of Splintered Sunlight on keys) and “Macadam Song” sucked us all into a group dream. There is a confident comfort in the sound of the DQB—each member so masterful at his craft, boldly forging new paths over multiple bars of improvisational bliss. They brought the whole damn thing down with a “Hello World>Evil Birdman of Funk” during which I’m pretty sure I howled like a hyena after an extended keyboard solo.

Dirk 17


DQB3 Mike B


The Flinging Times


Newark’s Home Grown Café was once again the setting of a contagious and raving night of groovy music this past Friday, when Philadelphia-based quintet The Dirk Quinn Band played host to a large and vivacious crowd. Unleashing a unique mix of funk, jazz, and urban music, guitarist Dirk Quinn and his backing band went through a vivid and varied performance of high caliber, leaving very little unexplored.

Firmly grounded on an exquisite and enthralling percussionist with a very intimate understanding of rhythm, the band was able to shimmy its way around a variety of highly demanding genres that lent the set a very eclectic and experimental flavor. Adding to the very palpable cosmopolitan nature of the music, was the very tasteful and mature use of electronic instruments right along side the more traditional and jazzier implementation of horns, keyboards, and electric guitars. Led by the ferocious and highly adventurous, jazz-infused style of guitarist Dirk Quinn, the band led an elated and highly satisfied audience through two hours of non-stop dancing, reminiscent of that seen at outdoor music festivals.

The compositions were as vibrant as they were contemplative, faithfully echoing the sounds of Latin American indigenous music, dizzying polyrhythmic styles from Africa, and the easy feeling swagger of New Orleans jazz. Played with an uncanny sense of precision, the band created a euphoric mood that escalated throughout the night, reaching a poignant climax during the cool and groovy solo break down of their song “Evil Birdman of Funk”. Always keeping the audience on its feet, Dirk Quinn managed to captivate the hearts of the delirious crowd, while providing a thoroughly concise dissertation on the possibilities for music in our current age.

Tri-State Indie

“It’s tempting to idealize the ‘artist’ mentality here and say something sappy like, ‘If not music, then life would be a mistake’, but I’m pretty sure that I could be just as poor and happy doing pretty much anything…There’s art in everything.”- Dirk Quinn

Dirk Quinn Band: Live at Home

Well, when Dirk Quinn isn’t quoting Nietzsche, he’s making music. The Dirk Quinn Band has just released their third album aptly titled, Live at Home. It’s a compilation of songs recorded on the road in the Philadelphia area, and serves as a testament to their uniquely aggressive, instrumental improvisational repertoire. This album is labeled as “Jazz” for which several names may come to mind: Bird Parker, Thelonious Monk, and Miles Davis—perhaps, Stan Getz, John Coltrane, Pat Metheny, or, cringingly, Kenny G. If you’ve read about the Dirk Quinn Band, you may have seen references to Medeski, Martin, and Wood or John Scofield, and this is fine—but I’d like to suggest you suspend the urge to slap a label on the music and style of the DQB.

Last Thursday, I attended their Live at Home CD release at the World Cafe Live in Philly during which they played 7 of the 13 tracks off the new album. (Show coverage can be found here.) So, follow me down this rabbit hole—through the eyes and ears of a die-hard, rock-n-roll freak, as I spiral through a mix of jazz, funk, progression, and rock release.

The 80-minute experience begins with “7 Swings” where each musician introduces himself with a polite sample of sound, then Dirk Quinn hits with a raspy guitar riff a la Jimi Hendrix, “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” and the bass of Stephen Kurtz drips in like shoe-fly molasses. Michael Borowski’s organ joins, melts, and they all smooth out into a sleepy train ride, chugging to the drum beat of Steve Zegray. But just as you settle in and put your feet up, you’re snatched up by the talons of the “Evil Birdman of Funk”—a throwback from the QuinnTetalbum. A quick word: These guys have mastered the manipulation of meter and rhythm. It’s mismatched but purposeful—there are no mistakes here.

Evil Birdman of Funk. Artist: Graham Perry.

Evil Birdman exhibits multiple trips, skips, and jumps with a nice pairing of Quinn’s guitar and Borowski’s synth keys. Kurtz rolls a silky bass line that has a diabolical Mars Volta feel, as the song slows down into a cigar and brandy, leather armchair atmosphere. Then a piano interlude intrudes, with multiple changes in key followed by an abrupt ending which leaves you feeling like, “Wait, I was just enjoying that taste…” But you don’t care because the “Macadam Song” picks you up like a never-ending staircase—running up and down, then gentle, flighty, picked up and let go by the wind. Quinn squeezes out some hard guitar matched with a counterpoint of Borowski’s ethereal piano, then Kurtz comes in with a bass break picked up again by the B-man’s elegant keys, swaying down like a feather drifting from the sky. It culminates with yet another change-up to a strong, solid oak finish.

You’re then treated to “Mikey’s Horse”: a piano solo that is regal, refined, and careful, almost Ballerina-like in its precision. It finishes with a touch of dissonance as it leads into a Dirk-a-delic Pink Floyd cover of “The Great Gig in the Sky”. I only wish they’d strayed a bit from the original and with a bit more of Max Swan on saxophone, though Quinn’s replica is more than satisfactory. “Eve” (another throwback from the self-titled Dirk Quinn album) rolls and lulls with a billowing 7-count guitar riff that transitions in and out, circling around a recurring theme reminiscent of Steve Winwood’s “Can’t Find My Way Home”. Swan’s sax finally elbows its way into this starry dreamscape. Borowski gets playful on the piano with a chopsticks lick during the crescendo and ends with a cute, tongue-in-cheek “Shave and a Haircut”. “Rainy Friday” starts off with a haunting and disoriented feeling of wandering through a Salvador Dali painting. Quinn’s fingers create a magnificent effect of guitar-coated raindrops and if you’re paying attention midway, you can hear the nightmarish urgency of “On the Run” from Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. The album culminates with “Escalator (Temporarily Stairs)”, a high energy blast where Max the Sax finally shines through. The band is “ON”—Kurtz plucks some “womp-womp-womps” to get your neck moving and stinkyface grooving. And watch out, there’s a “Smooth Criminal” waiting for you, led by Borowski’s shredding organ.

As if my effusive storytelling about this band and their music wasn’t enough, I must end with a word on the band members. I caught up with them briefly at the show and they are a fun and polite group of guys. Their chemistry on and off stage is authentic and genuine—they live, breathe, and jam for the music…and it shows. Support them by visiting and by purchasing the album from CDBaby. A slideshow and images of theband can be found at Kevin High Photography, Please visit his music galleries here.


Connect Savannah

Noteworthy: The Dirk Quinn Band 

Fleet-fingered Philadelphia-based guitarist Dirk Quinn could be the illegitimate son of Jeff Beck, although his fiery electric work is firmly rooted in jazz and, in the context of this four-piece band, it’s allayed with insistent, funky grooves to create a brilliantly lava-laden form of electric fusion.


To put it another way: This guy is smokin.’


The band, which includes Mike Borowski on keyboards,Stephen Kurtz on bass and “Z” (Steve Zegray) on drums, is one of those well-tuned improvisational machines that make this kind of byzantine music look effortless, and a lot of fun to play, besides.


There’s a bit of Mahavishnu and John McLaughlin in here, some sharp-toothed Medeski, Martin & Wood acid jazz, a bit of Pat Metheny nimbleness and Wes Montgomery speed-riffing.


There’s an amazing video on YouTube where Quinn, armed with only an acoustic guitar and some foot pedals, performs a killer version of the Who’s “Baba O’Riley.” All by himself. Maybe if we all ask him real nice, he’ll play it while the other guys are on a break. Listen & learn:

The unknown band that so many know: the Dirk Quinn Band.

Photo by Graham Perry

Dirk Quinn’s band has been making the rounds playing great venues and festivals like World Café LiveThe Bitter End, the 8x10Musikfest and The Come Together Music Festival. They’ve had opportunity to share the stage with the likes of Booker T.Jim Weider, and most recently, Ivan Neville’s DumpstaPhunk. It doesn’t matter where, when or with whom they play, The Dirk Quinn Band is spot on at every performance.

In the not so distant past, the Dirk Quinn Band had been Quinn and whomever  happened to be available. But he’s since comfortably settled down with Mike Borowski on keys, Stephen Kurtz on bass and “Z” (Steve Zegray) on drums. This particular group plays with such effortlessness it’s like a walk in the park for them. It’s because these musicians are as passionate about the music Quinn writes as he is. It is also because they’ve developed a camaraderie on stage typical of a band who’s been playing together for years.

Photo by Rob Nagy

DQB played 5 songs when they opened for DumpstaPhunk at World Café Live on June 17. Those songs, a mix of traditional jazz convention with funk and rock thrown in for good measure, took you through an engaging musical journey. Much like movements characteristically found in classical music, each of Quinn’s songs told several stories woven together in a larger, longer piece. The transitions between each story were sometimes startling, each movement may not have seemed to fit, yet in the end the connection surfaced and was quite gratifying. His set proved to be exceptional and technically flawless.

Like many of his tunes, Quinn’s June 17 opener “Thursday” started soft and slow, defining the theme and introducing characters. It crescendoed, took a hard right, then slammed back to its original theme only to start the build again. It’s a song with meandering keyboards, silky bass riffs and plenty of the guitar finesse that is normal for Quinn. “Macadam,” a new song yet to be recorded, fooled you into thinking it’s more traditional jazz, but Quinn’s signature, throwing in the unexpected, kept the song moving and playful. It danced seamlessly between jazz and rock guitar reminiscent of Trey Anastasio.

Photo by Graham Perry

Not one for usually adding cover tunes to his set, Quinn chosePink Floyd’s “Great Gig in the Sky” as the perfect quiet before the storm. Quinn’s guitar solo was a respectable substitute forP.P Arnold, Katie Kissoon, or Carol Kenyon vocal – maybe even the original Clare Torry vocal. Its hush was soothing and distracting and, unbeknownst to them, effectively lured the audience into the trap of the “Evil Birdman of Funk.”

“Evil Birdman of Funk” sounded like a love song. Not one in the traditional sense of sweet and happy, but one that showed the disarray of relationships from start to finish – from the rush of courting to the passion of the bedroom to the easiness of a longtime, still fiery love affair. Quinn’s guitar playing was physical and what led you through every twist and turn of this tale. Z’s drumming, particularly in this song, showed his roots in rock and added magnitude to the kind of jazz DQB plays.

Kurtz proved his worth nailing a come-hither bass riff to introduce the last tune in the set. “Good ‘Ol Fashioned Gospel Throwdown” started off pretty and calm. But make no mistake, it was every bit of what you’d expect to hear from the pews of a Southern Baptist church. It went from subtle to rousing to fire and brimstone to hallelujah, I’ve been saved all played out on guitar, bass, keys and drums. It was Borowski’s playing that gave this song its “sinner mend your ways” tone.  Borowski was fascinating to watch.  He couldn’t sit still. He hammered on the keys with a quickness that was dizzying yet what emanated was superbly soulful. Jazz sometimes has virtuosos fighting for the spotlight, but this song highlighted the skill of each musician. All brilliant on their own, Quinn writes in a way where each player gets to show off his chops while remaining very much a necessary part of the whole.

Quinn is working on his third album. In the meantime, “Dirk Quinn” and “Quinntet” are available on iTunes and CD Baby. You can catch the Dirk Quinn Band live on July 5th at the Free Arts on South St. before they hit the road for GA, SC and NC.