The Immediate Family’s musical DNA runs deep

At New York’s Iridium, famed session musicians put their own spin on material they helped make famous.
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 Left to right: Leland Sklar, Waddy Wachtel, Russ Kunkel and Danny Kortchmar of The Immediate Family perform Oct. 25 at The Iridium in New York. (Photo by Chris M. Junior)

Left to right: Leland Sklar, Waddy Wachtel, Russ Kunkel and Danny Kortchmar of The Immediate Family perform Oct. 25 at The Iridium in New York. (Photo by Chris M. Junior)

By Chris M. Junior

Throughout his career, Danny Kortchmar has always seemed to play exactly what was needed for a given song.

The guitarist also has a keen sense for saying exactly the right thing. After performing one song with The Immediate Family at The Iridium in New York on Oct. 25, Kortchmar offered a perfect one-sentence summary of the quintet: They were a cover band that played all-original music.

The comment prompted a few laughs, but in all seriousness, the respective resumes of Kortchmar, fellow guitarists Waddy Wachtel and Steve Postell, bassist Leland Sklar and drummer Russ Kunkel cover a lot of hits by household names over a lot of years. And since about 2018, the members of The Immediate Family have plucked choice cuts from their collective session experience and songwriting catalogs to make fresh studio recordings and put together a no-filler set list when they do embark on short tours.

 Danny Kortchmar (left) and Steve Postell at The Iridium on Oct. 25. (Photo by Chris M. Junior)

Danny Kortchmar (left) and Steve Postell at The Iridium on Oct. 25. (Photo by Chris M. Junior)

During this Iridium show, the first of three at the Manhattan venue as part of an East Coast swing, The Immediate Family opened with “Lawyers, Guns and Money,” the first of a handful of songs by Warren Zevon, who recorded Excitable Boy, the album that spawned “Lawyers,” with Wachtel, Kortchmar, Kunkel and Sklar. Also included in the well-paced set were signature hits by Don Henley (the J.J. Cale-styled rendition of “Dirty Laundry,” co-written by Kortchmar, was a highlight) and Jackson Browne (prior to the band performing “Somebody’s Baby,” Postell cracked that the song’s fortunes enabled co-writer Kortchmar to buy a house). Long ago these musicians established themselves as formidable foundation pieces in support of other artists; now they find themselves as a bona fide attraction exuding grace, precision and charm with their instruments and their anecdotes.

The Immediate Family’s brief East Coast run wraps up Oct. 27 at The Iridium.

 Left to right: Russ Kunkel, Steve Postell, Danny Kortchmar, Waddy Wachtel and Leland Sklar prior to The Immediate Family's Oct. 25 show at The Iridium in New York. (Photo by Chris M. Junior)

Left to right: Russ Kunkel, Steve Postell, Danny Kortchmar, Waddy Wachtel and Leland Sklar prior to The Immediate Family's Oct. 25 show at The Iridium in New York. (Photo by Chris M. Junior)