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The Yussef Dayes Experience brings soulful UK acid jazz to Portland’s Star Theater

The Yussef Dayes Experience brings soulful UK acid jazz to Portland’s Star Theater

Photo by Shawnte Sims

The PNW has been long awaiting a visit from UK drummer Yussef Dayes!

On March 26th, Soul’d Out Productions brought The Yussef Dayes Experience to Star Theater. The show, featuring Yussef’s long-time collaborators Rocco Palladino on bass and Charlie Stacey on keys, offered an innovative, unique style of acid jazz with elements of dub, ‘70s funk, and Senegalese percussion. Dayes has a drumming style that’s fast without sacrificing the feel of the groove. He and Palladino work off each other well, giving listeners a complex rhythmic experience with Stacey softening the mood, showcasing spacey, shimmery keys.

The set opened with Grammy Award winning guest saxophone player, Venna, building the mood as the band trickled in. Throughout the set, Dayes introduced the members onstage. From the audience, it was clear they’re are as close as family. Dayes even shared a memory from his childhood of back when his percussion player—introduced as “Alexander the Great”—had played with Dayes’ older brother Kareem.

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The set heavily featured songs from the Yussef Dayes Trio album Welcome To The Hills (2020) alongside material from Dayes’ collaborative works with Tom Misch entitled What Kinda Music (2020). The track “Odyssey” had a groove so in the pocket, the audience couldn’t help but bop. With collective head nods, the room breathed in tandem, moving to the funky beat. When it was time to play “For My Ladies,” Dayes requested red lights. The ambiance accentuated the song’s chill and sultry intro, later building to an epic cacophony of sound.

The compositions allow the members to showcase their chops in balance with feel-good tunes. The transparent love shared amongst the band was tangible, elevating the sound to match.