In 2008, Mike Keneally (guitar, keyboards), Marco Minnemann (drums), and Bryan Beller (bass) formed the jazz rock fusion power trio, Keneally Minnemann Beller (KMB) and began touring.
Keneally cut his teeth as the stunt guitarist in Frank Zappa‘s 1988 band. He went on to record over a dozen of his own albums and appeared on dozens more by Zappa, Steve Vai, Henry Kaiser, and many more. Keneally is the National Music Director of the Paul Green School of Rock, and the Music Director of the new San Diego branch. The All Music Guide considers Keneally “the leading progressive rock genius of the post-Zappa era.”
When asked by the San Diego Reader in a recent interview to describe his music, Keneally said:
“It’s essentially rock, with equal emphasis on improvisation and strictly composed things. There’s a lot of guitar in it. I’m mainly known as a guitarist, although keyboard was my first instrument, and I play a lot of different instruments on my recordings. Dynamically, melodically, rhythmically, and lyrically, it’s real diverse and eclectic. I love a lot of different musical styles, and it all gets mashed in.”
Minnemann’s career began in his native Germany and has toured with the likes of Nina Hagen, the Buddy Rich Big Band, Necrophagist, Terry Bozzio, and now, Keneally Minnemann Beller. He is known for his amazing four-way independence, along with his unusual drum kit set up (multiple foot pedals, a gong, electronics and unique cymbal configurations).
Bryan Beller landed a gig with Dweezil and Ahmet Zappa’s tweaked rock project Z, straight out of Berklee College in 1993. Also on board was Mike Keneally, and in a lasting gesture of solidarity with his avant-garde pop/rock/fusion musical vision, Beller left Z when Keneally did in 1996. Twelve years, seven albums, and countless tours later, their musical partnership continues to this day. He still found the time to work and tour with Steve Vai and Wayne Kramer, has released two solo albums, and is a Contributing Editor for Bass Player magazine.
In the first video, (KMB) perform Keneally’s classic instrumental “Cheddar” (Hat, 1992) live at The Baked Potato in Studio City, CA on November 1, 2008. In the second and third videos, KMB perform “Dolphins” and “Bullys” (both from ‘Boil That Dust Speck‘, 1994) live at Channel-25, El Cajon, CA, July 20, 2008.
These are really quite amazing videos. To paraphrase a very famous quote, “Jazz rock fusion isn’t dead, it’s lurking somewhere in California under the name of Keneally Minnemann Beller. To view other KMB videos click here.
As an extra related tidbit of trivia, does anyone recognize the narrator in the following Chris Opperman track, “Ain’t Got No Beef”(Oppy Music Vol.1: Purple, Crayon, 1998):
20 thoughts on “Keneally Minnemann Beller (KMB)”
Who has more fun than Mike Keneally performing live? You get the feeling watching these clips that Mike has unlimited abilities with a guitar. I caught him with Frank on the ’88 tour, but I’d love to see this trio.
I really dug Minnemann’s interesting style of drumming. He plays off of Keneally like a glove.
This is exactly the kind of music my wife hates, because you can’t listen to it and pay the bills. 🙂
The Chris Opperman song is fuckin’ outrageous. I loved all the music styles packed into one song (especially the waa-waa pedal porno guitar complete with horn solo and what I call the “Wipe Out” guitar parts).
The narrator/speakerbox guy is . . . ?
Oh, I can’t bullshit. It’s listed on the Opperman link above.
Yikes, that is some of the most grooveless wanking I’ve ever heard! Somebody please teach these guys to find the ‘pocket’ now!
(I gotta go listen to Po-Jama People now to clear my mind and reestablish my equilibrium.)
Somewhen in the 90s I complete lost interest in Keneally’s and also Vai’s music.
There’s no doubting these guys’ musicianship. However, this genre has been done several times over and consequently now ‘lacks commercial potential’. And they need to come up with some killer material that doesn’t just rely on the niftyness of their playing. But as long as they’re enjoying themselves that’s fine.
I got bored with Steve Vai as well but I still reckon ‘Alien Love Secrets’ to be pretty darn good.
All parts are uP!
[quote comment=”4538″]There’s no doubting these guys’ musicianship. However, this genre has been done several times over and consequently now ‘lacks commercial potential’. And they need to come up with some killer material that doesn’t just rely on the niftyness of their playing. But as long as they’re enjoying themselves that’s fine.
I got bored with Steve Vai as well but I still reckon ‘Alien Love Secrets’ to be pretty darn good.[/quote]
I wonder, at what time did Zappa’s music ever achieve “commercial potential”? Since when did a music’s potential appeal have anything to do with whether it was good or not, huh? Has jazz ever been a big money making genre for any of the musicians who played and performed it? And speaking of Steve Vai, wasn’t that one of the very reasons why he founded “Favoured Nations” records in the first place? To promote genres, music, and artists he felt weren’t receiving the attention they deserved? Isn’t there something wrong when B. Spears makes millions and musicians like Keneally and Beller are forced to tour and tour much like FZ did just to make a living?
Isn’t “receiving attention” the same as “commercial potential” in a market oriented world?
Good things (including music) don’t have to deserve attention automatically. Sometimes it is better if something doesn’t receive a wider attention to stay good.
Some might be inclined to say Keneally and Beller and Minnemann are a: lucky to be able go on tour and b: lucky to “make a living” doing so. Not everyone is that lucky or positioned in the market in such a way to enjoy that luxury.
[That said, the argument has been made that “luck” is it’s own “talent.”–which is to say I’m not hating the players here, just hating the game…]
The real wrongness comes in when you think of the thousands and thousands of musicians all over north America (let alone the world) who are at least as “nifty” in their playing as Keneally and Beller but (for reasons totally unrelated to music/musicianship/musicality/hard work/personality/etc.) have to do other, non-musical things “just to make a living.”
While there are all kinds of reasons to celebrate the tremendous musicality and huge amounts of energy, time and dedication KMB, Vai, Favoured Nations, et. al. have put into their ‘thing’, does anyone else out there ever find their brand of/that genre’s tendency towards totally controlled, well rehearsed, blindingly professional chop abundance kinda, you know, uh, boring? I mean, you listen to KMB and all the rest and you know everything is going to turn out “fine:” the solos will have a “climax” the drums will keep time perfectly, bass will play all the right chord tones, tonality of a mid 20th century sort will be the prevailing norm, the “form” of the compositions will be “balanced” and all the rest–like pasteurised/homogenised milk or a roller-coaster ride at Disneyland, as opposed to milk straight from a goat, or a joy ride in a stolen car while high on LSD.
Where’s the adventure? Where’s the excitement?
I have to agree with you, Oprah’s poncho, insofar as “hating the game”. No matter one’s opinion of KMB or Vai (I’ve personally enjoyed quite a few Favoured Nation releases, btw), many of the musicians and bands I’d love to see live (Mike Keneally, The Tubes, for instance) are often limited to small mini-tours (usually around California, and other states), so the likelihood of my ever seeing them is small, unless I go to where they are.
Just as the internet is altering the distribution paradigm of new and old music labels alike, so is the current economic slump affecting artists ability to make money touring.
As for your opinion regarding Keneally’s compositions, do you think the terms “controlled”, “pasteurised/homogenised”, “balanced”, and “boring” are really applicable? Or are you just speaking to the genre in general? These are terms I’ve heard before describing the studio work of Steely Dan…
[quote comment=”4525″]Yikes, that is some of the most grooveless wanking I’ve ever heard![/quote]
Regardless of that fact, I still believe this is some the finest canoodling this side of the Atlantic!
[quote comment=”4549″]I have to agree with you, Oprah’s poncho, insofar as “hating the game”. No matter one’s opinion of KMB or Vai (I’ve personally enjoyed quite a few Favoured Nation releases, btw), many of the musicians and bands I’d love to see live (Mike Keneally, The Tubes, for instance) are often limited to small mini-tours (usually around California, and other states), so the likelihood of my ever seeing them is small, unless I go to where they are.[/quote]
…Which might not be such a bad thing–the end of mega world tours that is–provided it stimulates more ‘regional’ music to fill the void.
[quote comment=”4549″]Just as the internet is altering the distribution paradigm of new and old music labels alike, so is the current economic slump affecting artists ability to make money touring.[/quote]
Yes, and/but/also it is just more consolidation of the market place such that only the largest and most commerce-friendly acts (I’m thinking Brittney here, but also of Dream Theatre, too) with the most tentacles in the most corporate sponsorship pots will be able to participate, let alone make a living, let alone make a decent living, within that old paradigm. Again, the “hope” (a hope, anyway) is that “big” acts will become (if they haven’t already) so bloated and ridiculously insular and irrelevant that they will siphon off the squarest of the square, thus removing some of the ‘canopy’ so that the so-called ‘underground’ (which is where good music comes from anyway) may enjoy some new life and fertility.
[quote comment=”4549″]As for your opinion regarding Keneally’s compositions, do you think the terms “controlled”, “pasteurised/homogenised”, “balanced”, and “boring” are really applicable? Or are you just speaking to the genre in general? These are terms I’ve heard before describing the studio work of Steely Dan…[/quote]
Yes, I do think the terms “controlled” and “pasteurised/homogenised”, “balanced” and (sadly) “boring” are applicable both to what little KMB I’ve listened to on this site and the youtube and to the genre in general. In the words of ice dancer/artist Toller Cranston “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth over doing.” C’mon Mike and Bryan, turn those amps up to eleven–and then smash your guitars over top of them–and then play your set. But again, these are just opinions, and likely minority opinions.
That said, I agree with Hugh that it really is some of the finest canoodling this side of the Atlantic–Keneally Beller and Minneman are all hugely excellent and total masters of their craft, so much so, I wouldn’t be surprized if their’s wasn’t the finest canoodling on that side of the Atlantic, as well. Further, one man’s canoodling is another man’s Elliott Carter.
As for Steely Dan, I’m sort of inclined to give them a “pass” as they were a “first”, and if they weren’t a “first” they sure did that kind of adult/contemporary/weather channel/erudite/500-level-harmony class/ultra expensive production thing with a gusto that even Scott Thunes can still appreciate.
Somehow I don’t think KMB-as-group is going to enjoy the same longevity as Steely Dan–which is less a comment on their value as humans or musicians than it is the genre and the ways of the marketplace.
You’re quite right, “I don’t think KMB-as-group is going to enjoy the same longevity as Steely Dan”. Since I’ve been following the music and recordings of Mike Keneally, I’ve noticed that often the names of the bands change, but the central musicians do not. Since exiting Dweezil’s and Ahmet’s band Z, Keneally and Beller have performed together in The Mike Keneally Band and Mike Keneally and Beer for Dolphins (and most recently KMB). They have both performed and recorded on some of my favourite discs by Steve Vai, Dweezil’s ‘Automatic’, and Neil Sadler’s ‘Theory of Forms’. Certainly, they have yet to rise to the sublime level of FZ, but if you recall FZ worked with some musicians for over 30 albums. Perhaps they have yet to fully realize their potential.
That said, I suggest you take a listen to the Monique Ortiz interview in the post a couple weeks back. She had some very topical things to say about working musicians trying to earn a living in the current global economic climate.
I love noodles!
And Harry, the groove is in the heart.
“Also on board was Mike Keneally, and in a lasting gesture of solidarity with his avant-garde pop/rock/fusion musical vision, Beller left Z when Keneally did in 1996.”
I am certain this is not a fact. I distinctly remember a Z concert in Rotterdam just after the release of Shampoo Horn, with MK, with whom I had a very brief conversation aftershow, with the great Scott Thunes on bass, who managed to break two strings during two different songs, which were replaced and tuned while Scott was playing. A scene I will never forget.
I know Z did at least do three shows in Holland during that tour, Tivoli, Utrecht, the Dynamo Open Air Festival and Nighttown, Rotterdam.
Years later I saw Keneally and Beller together in Delft doing an acoustic show. MK had just finished the Piano Renditions then. Great show. What an amazing couple.
[quote comment=”4587″]”Also on board was Mike Keneally, and in a lasting gesture of solidarity with his avant-garde pop/rock/fusion musical vision, Beller left Z when Keneally did in 1996.”
I am certain this is not a fact. [/quote]
You might very well be right, Rob. From what little I have been able to garner from interviews from Keneally, he reached a personal and professional impasse with the Zappa Family philosophy, about which he has kept quite mum. That Keneally and Beller left Z together is a given, but exactly when is up to speculation.
This is what Mike originally wrote concerning his split with Z:
Here is Bryan Beller’s take on the split:
I seem to remember both Mike and Bryan recently saying that there is no bad blood between them and GZ/DZ/ZFT. I will try to find those links too.
Also, Beller joined Z in late 1993. So the Rotterdam show that Rob saw was before that (as Thunes was still in the band).
Thanks for these links, Matt.
It’s obvious that there was no “bad blood” between any of the parties involved, more like an employer/employee relationship that had reached it’s conclusion. I’m sort of glad it did because the albums that Beer For Dolphins and the Mike Keneally Band recorded are some of my absolute favorites. Indeed, Keneally is no Zappa. In his own words, he has never tried to be either; rather, exploring his own musical universe. If there is any comparison between MK and FZ it’s that they are both incredibly uniquely skilled and improvisational guitarists with distinct musical visions, and when one listens to them, you can easily discern their obvious playfulness. They both make music a joy.
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