Colorado Music Buzz CD Review - Nov 2008

Jazz - Blues: Cocktail Revolution - Better Reception
***** (Five Stars)
Saturday, November 01, 2008

Better Reception CD Cover
If I told you about a CD that featured some stellar musicianship, fantastic writing, and beautiful textures, our conversation would essentially lead to Cocktail Revolution’s new concoction Better Reception. With its stunning sonic placement and unbroken studio recording techniques, CR proves why CDs are made. The listener can focus on the music and what emotions occurring, instead of concentrating on the classic amateur and the emotionless. But if that’s not enough, CR made Better Reception with over 50 mp3 files of their own recordings for fans to play producer with. The Garage Band Syndrome strikes again! However take notice: playing around with quality recording takes from the great musicians of CR does not make your name worthy of credits on Better Reception.

-Dave Preston

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Feature Article from Colorado Music Buzz
September 1 - 2008

Jazz - Blues: SPOTLIGHT - Cocktail Revolution
Monday, September 01, 2008 | by Katie Flannery

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Band Photo
The most unique band in Denver is set to release their first official album on Saturday, September 20th at Jazz at Jack’s. Cocktail Revolution is planning an exceptional celebration with music, unique visual elements, special guests, gifts and other distinctive surprises. The band wanted to have their one-of-a-kind album release party in a special space where all the focus would be on the band. They had a short list of venues but kept coming back to Jazz at Jack’s. “The venue has always been so good to the band,” said keyboardist Chad Aman. “We knew that Jack’s would be a perfect place to have the release. The focus inside the venue is always on the band, it sounds great and [managing partner] Sandra has always been great to us. Sandra had a lot to do with the decision.”

Planned for the evening is a special visual component designed and produced by artist Mel Aman. She mentioned that there would be “banks of TVs, cameras for each instrument and an interesting lighting design for the stage.” When pressed for more specifics, she smiled and said she didn’t want to give too much away, but stated, “it will truly be a show…a great performance.” Guests are requested to wear “rock star formal” attire. The beauty of this request is that it’s subjective and completely open to interpretation, which will result in some interesting garb. Hand-made, specially designed invitations by Mel will be sent to the band’s email list as well as to long time friends and supporters of the band. This event is not invitation only as the public is highly encouraged to attend (read: don’t miss this event). The night will consist of three sets that will include the performance of the entire new album entitled Better Reception, new songs and a set with DJ Check One who will also be spinning between sets. There has been talk of an after party, but as of press time there are no hard plans. Keep your eyes and ears open at the show for extra post-release festivities.

When asked what kind of music the band plays, Chad Aman will quickly say, “nu school.” Others have explained the band as playing nu-jazz, live drum and bass, acid jazz and more. The band’s sound has evolved over time to include aspects of electronic music and this is apparent on the new album. Included with the ten tracks are more than 50 mp3 samples for DJs to spin. These samples are bits and pieces of sonic gems taken from individual tracks and are found in a separate folder on the CD that can be opened when inserted into a computer. The band has created a website ( for creative individuals to share their mixes that include the Cocktail Revolution samples. The band explicitly demands that mixers “spin it don’t lift it” since all samples and music are copyrighted. DJ Walt White, DJ Wesley Wayne and DJ Check One are a few DJs in Denver that already use the band’s samples.

The band was in the studio on and off since February of 2004. They also appeared at the Toronto North by Northeast Festival in 2004 and were the critic’s pick of bands to watch. Due to some pressing health issues that resulted in “a really tough stretch” and the fact that drummer Zach Pietlock moved out of state and then moved back again resulted in an absence from both the fledgling touring and recording process for about a year and a half. There were about 30 songs recorded in three days and the majority of these tracks were composed at Kyle Jones’ (who also recorded The Flobots) Sleeping Brotherhood studio. Better Reception was mixed and mastered by Kyle Jones with some additional arranging and mixing by Reese Smith. According to saxophonist Jon Hegel, the tracks that weren’t composed in the studio were written on the stage – such as track two on the album “Ambient.” “This is our first real record, and we’re very proud of it,” said Chad Aman. “It’s very strong. I don’t know of any other band that sounds like this. We’ve grown a lot since the recording of this album…we sound even better now than we did while in the studio.” The album certainly shows the evolution of the band as three different bassists are featured. Each bassist – Matt Deason, Colin Mitchel and Artie Moore - spent some time as a band member over the years. Current bassist extraordinaire Chris Harris is not on the album as it was recorded before his current tenure in the band. Don’t miss his prodigious bass display at the release party. The album also contains performances by special guest guitarist Damon Wood, and vocalists Brian Handlos and Zac Colletti. “There are different styles on the album,” explained Chad Aman, “from Cajun styles to nu-school drum and bass. That’s kinda the way we are.”

There will be the typical band t-shirt and sticker offerings at the party as well as more unconventional particulars such as a dog tag necklace with a special code on the back. Those that receive the necklace can log onto the band website and use the code to download a free track that was not included on the album. Mel Aman emphasized the attention to detail in all aspects of the party and hinted at more surprises. The possibility of the inclusion of a red carpet was mentioned as well: “Well, a reddish carpet,” deadpanned Jon Hegel. “Perhaps it will be something more mauve. The carpet will be somewhere in the red color family…”

Cocktail Revolution plans on using their new release as a platform to get into the music festival circuit and obtain more exposure – chiefly on a national level. Better Reception will be sent out to a number of large record labels in distinctive packaging. The overwhelming potency of the album should speak for itself; especially at a time when scores of music industry eyes are on Denver and the singular talent that is presently coming out of this city. Considering the fact that it took four years of illness, uncertainty, and changes in band members, the end result is a stunning example of exceptional musicianship found right here in Denver. I was encouraged by Chad, Jon and Chris that the album was worth the wait and that the release party was the one to attend. After a tumultuous four years Chad explained how “the band is trying to push forward and to keep making the band better than it’s ever been.” The guys in the band are particularly grateful to their fans and the fact that they’ve been extremely supportive over the years. Cocktail Revolution recently played a City Park jazz concert and drew in many more new admirers. “There was a great response and we sold a lot of copies of the new album…even before it was officially released,” said Chad Aman. The band is happy and proud of the new recording and they are poised to take the next step. Cocktail Revolution wants to thank Denver for all the support so be sure to attend the party and experience the Cocktail buzz!

Cocktail Revolution album release party for Better Reception. Jazz at Jack’s Saturday, September 20th 9:00 PM.


From the Rocky Mountain News
"The Buzz" - by Dave Flomberg
August 28th, 2008

THE BUZZ: 'Pec plays on consistency


Have you ever said a word over and over in your head so many times that it eventually seems to lose all meaning? By the time you read this, I imagine you'll be in this camp; at least, I know I'm there now.

Change. A mantra leaked out of the sides of so many mouths, it's evident that the word doesn't mean anything - a collection of consonants and vowels that may as well be blrrghfaegle. Or plxyltoph.

The country's changed. The last decade or so, everything's changed. Denver's changed. Here I am, standing on the corner of Market and 20th streets looking at an inescapable tidal wave of change - an influx of faces from all over the country, maybe even the world - into bars and clubs that aren't old enough to be served themselves, were they little more than doe-eyed college girls looking for a thrill in the city on a Saturday night.

But not the 'Pec. The 'Pec hasn't changed a whit, least not as far as I can tell. Chris Harris stands in the side door, half in and half out of the joint, playing bass like a fiend possessed, a groove thick enough for a man to walk on without snowshoes.

Chad Aman's fingers dance over the keyboard balanced on top of the rickety piano a few feet away, a small bar lining its side, separating the stage from the johns. A couple jazzbos, perched at the rail, nod their heads to the rhythm, alternately whooping and hollering their appreciation for the solos that Jon Hegel and Dave Dinsmore barrel through on the sax and trombone, respectively, calling and responding to Chad's riffs and Dan Lorhing's rat-a-tat on the drums as he finds himself slowly edging up the tempo a notch at a time. Intentional or not, it's certainly organic, and they all feel it.

The consistency of the scene at the 'Pec may be its own curse, as there's actually enough room to move inside the shotgun space; there are too many distractions in LoDo, too much change over the years. There was a time when coming to the 'Pec meant braving a darkened warehouse district and belligerently drunken transients looking for a fix or an easy smash-and-grab for any car not parked directly underneath a street lamp. Today, it's at least enough to bring smiles to the faces of those traipsing by - even though the jazz styles Cocktail Revolution blows through inside are definitely a leap forward from the dusty standards so often heard on this stage - on their way to someplace where it seems the dress code is tube tops and high heels.

It's a cash-only joint, and I have to pop next door to the Giggling Grizzly to borrow their ATM before I head inside. I drop the $5 at the door - assuming it goes to the band of hard-working players inside. It's still stifling inside, and though there's been a two-drink minimum here as long as I can remember, no one's enforcing it tonight. Normally, I'd be only too happy to oblige, but the music's captivating.

Indeed, while almost nothing has changed at the 'Pec since I stood outside almost 20 years ago, too young to get in but able to hear every note, one thing has - and the band tonight is just enough evolution that, suddenly, change has some meaning again.

And it's good.


Press Release for
"better reception" CD Release at
Jazz at Jack's
September 20th 2008:
The Scene
The Yellow Scene Magazine - North Metro, CO
February 2007 - Vol 7 Issue 1

A review from North Denver's "The Yellow Scene". Click photos for enlarged images:

Westword dubbed Cocktail Revolution Denver's best jazz band in 2006, and while D-town may not be the jazz hub like St. Louis, New York or even Boston, it's still a decent accolade. More importantly, it's well deserved. The quartet features saxophonist Jon Hegel and drummer Zach Pietlock (both of Judge Roughneck), bassist Artie Moore (Ron Miles, Joe Bonner), and keyboardist Chad Aman [Harmonious Junk, Byron Shaw Projex], deep in the throes of what they call urban improv. Blending a heavy back beat and hip-hop swagger with straight-ahead horn lines and ridiculously impressive musicianship, they are as good as any quartet in the country.
3 Kings Tavern/ Feb. 10/9pm/Price TBD/303.777.7352


Critic's Pick
North By Northeast Festival
Now Magazine- Toronto, Cananda
June 10-16, 2004
Cocktail Revolution was a critic's Pick for the North By Northeast Festival. Click photo for enlarged image.
CD Review
Colorado Daily - Boulder, CO
March 28 - 30, 2003

"Cocktail Revolution" - Cocktail Revolution Self-produced

There is an underground movement that not many know about -- the Urban Renaissance, in which musicians and artists have come together and developed an electronic culture. From the late '90s to early 2000 (and still hanging on), DJs and raves were the big underground thing, so it is only natural that musicians and artists take electronica and develop it. The same way way in which jazz eventually spawned hip-hop, electronica is moving in its own organic direction. There are now live performances that, formerly, one could only hear DJs spin in clubs.

Only a handful of musicians play electronica. Denver is fortunate to have a few. Cocktail Revolution has broken onto the local scene as a regular at many swanky hip martini bars and jazz clubs, such as Blue 67 and Dazzle. Cocktail Revolution is made up of members of the New Majestics and the infamous ska band, Judge Roughneck.

Drum and bass fans, jazz fans and grooveheads will love every minute of their self titled EP, available on their website and at their live shows. "Nuttnbuttajam" gives us a straightforward booty-spankin' funk-hop groove. The arrangements are very much in the jazz realm but the groove pounds like subwoofers of a street racer's Honda Civic. "Trance Hall" is a jazzy dance tune that shows a very different side of the group, demonstrating their diverse musical tastes while keeping the electronica feel. Jon Hegel's alto sax moves around the percussive raga organ style of Chad Aman's keyboard in perfect harmony, and a strong interlude of the "Mission Impossible" theme song jammed over drum and bass. "Eye" is straight-ahead breakbeat. It is more on a martini sippin' vibe than aggressive jungle but with the ambient chords and smooth transitions the song stays interesting.

Hardcore drum and bass fans will like the chaotic drumming of Zach Pietlock on "Mistercool". His beat is so tight that one might be inclined to think the drums are computer operated. The only downside to this song is its length -- too short. "Swamp Thang" is more of a funk tune, another reminder that Cocktail Revolution is simply trying to be itself, not fall neatly into one category.

Cocktail Revolution is heard regularly at Blue 67 ( every Tuesday in Denver and a must-see upcoming show is their appearance at Dulcinea's 100th Monkey in Denver on april 3rd. For more info go to

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Colorado Music Buzz CD Review Nov 2008