Escaper puts out a funky, ambient sound, with a blend of dexterous instrumentation and a dance-party vibe.
The Brooklyn-based space rock band — comprised of guitarist Will Hanza, bassist Jay Giacomazzo, keyboardist Phil Kadet, drummer Wayan Zoey and saxophonist Johnny Butler — will return to Northeastern Pennsylvania today with a 10 p.m. performance at the River Street Jazz Cafe, 667 S. River St., Plains Township.
The alternative outfit is no stranger to the area, having played Still Grateful Fest in September 2017 at Jermyn festival ground Mountain Sky, and Giacomazzo said they were delighted to be invited back to the venue to headline Grateful for Spring earlier this month.
“It was pretty incredible. It was the type of show where many of the bands you’ve been playing with for a long time are under one venue,” he said. “We played two sets. It was a challenge, but I feel like it brought the best out of us.”
Hanza added the show ended up being one of their best.
“I think when you’re up on the mountain like that … you just start feeling the openness of the sky, and the mountain trees and all that. And everybody who is there is just so into the music as well, everybody is really invested … so there’s a great interplay between us and the audience,” he said.
That interplay and feeling is very important to Escaper, to whom improvisation plays a large role.
“The vibe is absolutely paramount to what we do,” Giacomazzo said. “A lot of what we do is improv. Where we are, our surroundings, the temperature of the air, all those things are factors. So I feel like it’s all something that we’re really mindful of, and really in tune with.”
The audience has an active role in the band’s sound as well, Hanza added.
“We’ve worked hard to have songs, we have actual songs … once we made those songs very solid, it allows us to use them as a launch pad for jams,” he explained. “I like to say that we don’t want to ever play at people, we want to play with people.”
The group’s improvisational orientation even found itself in the studio as they recorded their most recent album, “Edge Detection,” which came out in February.
The members sat in separate rooms, looking at each other through windows, as each song was recorded live. The end result is an organic representation of the band’s propensity to “vibe” with one another.
“It allows for, more than anything, for capturing the synergy that happens when everybody is playing at once, as opposed to layering and just having to play with whatever had been laid down before you. We were working off each other,” Hanza explained.
The Jazz Cafe performance comes as part of a three-day string of shows leading up to the band’s appearance at the Elements Lakewood Festival on Sunday in Wayne County. Hanza said they are looking forward to their return to NEPA.
“There’s such a real, genuine love for music in the area that’s infectious, and it means a lot to us to be accepted in the area,” he said.
Reach Toni Pennello on Twitter at @TLArts.