Seattle-based quartet prepares to bring energy to March 8 show

Loretto J. Hulse, Herald staff writer March 2, 2012 

Seattle keyboardist Joe Doria has a tough time describing what newcomers should expect from his band McTuff.

His own multilayered musical background is heavily influenced by the Seattle jazz scene, and he promises his group will bring energy March 8 to Richland's Emerald of Siam.

McTuff, a quartet of Seattle musicians, takes the stage at 9 p.m. inside the restaurant at the Uptown Shopping Center. Admission is $10 at the door, and the venue is open to all ages.

The band's sound blends punk/rock with soul-based funk that is heavy on improvisation.

"But even that's not a good description, because with McTuff, anything goes," Doria said in an email to the Herald. "In live shows, I'll swing some fiery blues, then left-turn into a noise/metal grind piece, then turn into a soft, beautiful soul-based ballad, then some go-go and surf-beat.

"It's kind of what makes a McTuff show worthwhile and different."

Doria's love of music came at an early age and without formal training.

"I would put records on my cheap little record player -- Music Man, John Williams, disco -- and sit for hours listening and watching the record go round," he wrote.

He taught himself to play the piano by ear, repeating the music he heard on TV. His repertoire ranged from cartoons, commercials and theme songs of shows.

As Doria grew older, he rocked out with friends to legends such as Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Van Halen, but he also was into Duran Duran, Journey and The Cars.

But he fell in love with jazz during college, and his ability allowed him to jam with some of Seattle's best musicians.

"And the rest is what it is now, a big mix of everything I took in," he wrote.

He and guitarist Andy Coe formed the band four years ago. They now are joined by saxophonist Cliff Colon and drummer Tarik Abouzied.

One thing live audiences may pick up on is Doria's penchant for playing the bass pedals of his Hammond organ with his feet in conjunction with the left hand.

"The foot accents root points/movement, and the left hand helps give it that feel/groove," he wrote. "It's not pedaling so much in the sense of classical organ. It's similar, but a different style that lends itself to the funk/soul/swing/rock music passed down from the masters."

However, Doria hands off much of the credit for McTuff's energetic sound to his bandmates. He marvels at Coe's guitar work, and Abouzied also puts on show with his sticks.

"His mastery of the odd-meter is really something else to see," Doria said.

Colon's horn can also steal the show.

"Cliff just has improv and music pouring out of him," Doria wrote. "There's incredible energy in his playing, which is a requirement to pull off this music."

But the band's name goes back to the keyboard and an early performance that included a tribute to jazz organ great Jack McDuff.

The band didn't have a name yet, so someone -- Doria said he doesn't recall who -- suggested McTuff.

"Eventually, I just decided, that's it. That's the name," he said.

For more information on the quartet, go to www.mctuffmusic.com.

*Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com

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