Vegas improv-rock band Moksha gears up for an eventful 2019

Erik Kabik

"We have been quiet," Moksha guitarist Jeremy Parks says. He’s not kidding. One of Las Vegas’ greatest live acts, the local jam/improvisational band played only one show in 2018. Real-life responsibilities—Parks’ guitar-building, drummer Pat Gray’s photography career, bassist John Heishman’s dispensary job and Brian Triola’s keyboard duties for other Vegas acts, to say nothing of family obligations—took priority over playing music. “We found it harder to harder to meet for rehearsal,” Parks says. “But when we did, the magic was still there.”

Moksha pulled off more sonic sorcery Saturday at the Sand Dollar Lounge. It was a noteworthy show, and not just because the band dusted off its instruments. Fans came from far and wide; among the packed throng were supporters from Northern and Southern California, and one who flew in from Alaska. And the band dug deep for its setlist, which included a handful of rare cuts and covers (like an instrumental take on Radiohead’s “Karma Police”) and several songs that remain unreleased—like the space-funk number “Faux Real,” the entrancing Krautrock closer “Obtuse” and the Latin-flavored “Casa Bonita.” During the latter instrumental, Parks’ flamenco-like leads alternated with Triola approximating a guitar on his amplified clavinet. Magic, indeed.

Those three songs, and several others, have already been recorded for an album due out once band members agree upon a unique way to release it. (From there, more local gigs will be booked.) Parks says it’s Moksha’s most sonically impressive effort. “It’s clear as a jazz record, but with the power of a rock record.” Partial credit goes to sound engineer Jeff Cressman, who also is Carlos Santana’s trombonist. But it also helps that Moksha has been fine-tuning many of the songs onstage for years, which makes hearing them in their recorded versions all the more promising. Says Triola: “I feel like this record is the closest to what it’s like to see the band live.”

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