Following in the footsteps of their predecessors, James Brown and Tower of Power, the six members of Lettuce have decided to deliver a colorful brand of funk, bringing unifying joy, unrestrained desire and stratospheric groove to stages on five continents.
And clearly, these six Berklee College of Music alumni know what they're doing. Often mid-tempo, they never stop pushing the boundaries of their genre. Funk is their essence, their reason for living, but they never hesitate to explore as far as their virtuosity allows. As their tracks progress, the sounds become more soaring, more atmospheric, more ethereal. Or, on the contrary, they approach trip-hop, jazz fusion and even progressive rock, ending up with what might be called psychedelic hip-hop.
Listening to Lettuce is like setting off on a journey from which you know you'll never return. From the lands of Asia to the Americas, it's like crossing the planet, with a common thread of music that always makes you want to move to the beat. As Adam Deitch, the band's drummer, explains so well, "the idea was to continue our exploration of the whole palette offered by funk and hip-hop beats, while giving these tracks melodies that make sense".
And it works! Although we had to wait patiently until 2017 for the group to finally arrive on our side of the Atlantic, they've been touring and playing at European festivals ever since. Because for enthusiasts and neophytes alike, Lettuce is best discovered live! This is where their technical skills are best expressed, but above all, where their creative energy, their subtle universe and their desire for unfailing joy are most keenly felt.
In the summer of '92, the members of Lettuce met at a teenage internship at Boston's Berklee College of Music. For two months, they composed together to a frenzied funk before going their separate ways. But their passion caught up with them, and when he entered undergraduate studies at the same university, the group instantly reformed. They went on to play in local clubs, regularly insisting that the managers "Let Us play". "Let Us play", they ask over and over again. Hence their name, Lettuce, which in the end has nothing to do with a salad!
From club to club and bar to bar, the infectious joy, talent and unstoppable technique of Lettuce's six musicians made a splash in their hometown, then all over America. Used to performing on stage, but not necessarily in the studio, the band was slow to release their first album. In 2002, 10 years after their formation, they finally produced Outta Here, followed by Live in Tokyo in 2003. Because you can't go against your nature, and live shows are definitely in their blood.
In 2012, the band signed with independent label Royal Family Record to release the excellent Fly. But it was with Crush, in 2015, that the band gained even more notoriety, crossing all oceans to deliver their atmospheric funk with a hip-hop sound. The album catches the top spot on the Billboard Jazz Albums and Contemporary Jazz Albums charts, and the band goes on tour, with a first stop in Europe in 2017.
The pandemic hasn't slowed Lettuce down; on the contrary, it's shifting gears at a furious pace. In 2019, they released Elevate, nominated the following year for a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album. In 2020, they release Resonate, and in 2022, it's Unify that fills fans' ears with their fearsome groove. This is instantly followed by a tour of America and Europe, to restore some cheer and joie de vivre after some particularly gloomy times.
I don't think I've ever danced so much at a concert. Lettuce totally set the place on fire tonight with their soaring groove, incredible sound and energy that carried us through the night. They've certainly earned themselves a fan, and I'm looking forward to their next appearance.
Lettuce may have the name of a vegetable, but on stage, this sextet is explosive. Their funk is modern, their groove stunning, and they're never short of energy to instill their audience with an explosive feel-good factor. It's impossible to sit still in front of this sound that takes us from one end of the planet to the other, through influences as eclectic as their funk is solid.
That's what makes their music so exciting for new listeners and keeps old fans excited: they're unpredictable, and you don't need to know their music to enjoy yourself. That's why every one of their performances is truly unique, a uniqueness that can only be achieved through constant exploration and delirious musicality. It makes you wonder what's planned and what's improvised.