Mon, July 15

Mo Du Beau means jazz

You may not have heard of them yet.

You may not even be able to pronounce the band’s name.

You probably will, however, recognize the name of at least one of the band members if you’ve followed the Verde Valley music scene even slightly in the last 20 years.

According to founding member and guitarist of Mo Du Beau, Jim DuFresne, the band’s name practically came to him from above.

"Twenty years ago we were coming back from a gig in Flagstaff and we were trying to think of a new name for the band when I looked up in the sky and saw these big eight- foot letters that you could see from all over Flagstaff, Mo Du Beau. The t,e,l was burned out"

And from a burnt out motel sign, Mo Du Beau was born.

After two decades, and more than 30 different band members, Mo Du Beau’s current line-up consists of DuFresne, Lowell-James Hicks on bass and alternating drummers, Kevin McQuaid and Dave Rentz.

Most people will recognize McQuaid from his stints with Los Root Doctors, a band he has performed with since new years last year. He is the newest member of Mo Du Beau, hooking up with the band about a month ago.

Five-string stand-up bassist Hicks is also new. He hooked up with the band after returning from Colorado in November.

And Rentz? Well if you don’t know, he’s played with just about every musician who has been in the Verde Valley in the last 25 years, including Major Lingo, Combo Deluxe, Danny Rhodes, Slim Chance and the Robin Miller Band.

Recently, Mo Du Beau have been playing weekends at the Grand Hotel in Jerome and offering jazz-fusion lovers a musical treat rarely found in the Verde Valley.

And what is jazz-fusion exactly?

"It’s jazz and rock," Hicks says." That’s where the definition comes from."

Back in the ‘70s, I understand, they needed a label for an acoustic style of music that was a blend of rock and jazz," Rentz continued.

"It’s jazz with a rock flavor or rock with a jazz flavor," added McQuaid.

Mo Du Beau draws its influence from an eclectic assortment of musical styles including funk, blues and Latin, and combines those sounds with its own versions of jazz and rock standards.

"Our music is like a chili," DuFresne says. "For example, the chili’s different when Kevin’s with us as opposed to when Dave’s with us, you know. "And we’ll mix in some jazz, mix in some rock ‘n roll, mix in some blues and we’ll mix in some Latin stuff. Sometimes the chili just kind of bubbles and sometimes it booms!"

The music played by the band also relies heavily on improvisation.

"We like to change things up and wring it out," DuFresne said. "I'm really lucky to have this caliber of musicians work with me because they can take the songs places dynamically. It’s not uncommon for us to play 15 to 20 minutes at a stretch."

One of Mo Du Beau’s goals is to introduce its audience to a musical experience that they’ve maybe never had before and is hard to find in these parts.

"The first thing you’ll notice is that there’s no microphone on stage because it’s an instrumental band," DuFresne said. We don’t go through that set format where you have to have an introduction to a song. When we play we have three musicians that are putting all their brain cells together. This is exactly one of those cases where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. That’s the only way a person can take their art or craft to a higher level and hopefully drag the audience along kickin’ and screamin’ too, you know like, ‘I didn’t know you could do that, geese.’ You see what I’m saying."

So, if your looking for a musical experience that’s unique and different and you don’t want to drive far to find it, Mo Du Beau plays tonight and Saturday at The Grand Hotel and every weekend through the beginning of January.