Friday, July 08, 2011

CD Review - Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord - Quavers! Quavers! Quavers! Quavers!

Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord
Quavers! Quavers! Quavers! Quavers!
(Hot Cup)

If the title doesn't offer any indication, Jon Lundbom seems to have picked up on some of the zaniness that is part and parcel with another project by his bandmates. This refers specifically, to saxophonist Jon Irabagon and bassist Moppa Elliot, who play in Mostly Other People Do the Killing. Lundbom and Big Five Chord released the excellent Accomplish Jazz in 2009, framed by the guitarist/leader's strong compositions (along with a Louvin Brothers cover) and country tone, cavorting with some occasionally wild blowing. Quavers! starts on the wild side and stays there, and although it might not be as rewarding immediately as its predecessor, there's still plenty to dig with each listen.

Lundbom's guitar introduces itself by sounding like John McLaughlin under water in the descending riff of "On Jacation." (It's actually the sound of his instrument going through two rotating Leslie speakers.) He continues to play through the descending riff as Irabagon (on alto) and Bryan Murray (tenor saxophone) take turns soloing. It's a nice raunchy sound and it makes his solo a welcome relief from the comping, which gets a little repetitive after awhile. As he did on several songs on his last album, Lundbom ends this and all the album's tunes without repeating the head. It's a good way to make sure you pay attention, and leaves a stronger impression of the soloists.

"The Bravest Little Pilot No. 2" adds electric pianist Matt Kanelos to the soundscape, giving the music some more atmosphere. This time Irabagon pushes the aggression button since he takes great pleasure in returning to one buzzing note on his horn throughout his chopped up solo. In "Faith-Based Initiative" he switches to sopranino, which he plays with astounding speed, collapsing into a pile of wheezing and skronk only after he explores every possible nuance of the little horn. Ironically this tune starts off with a theme closer to swing, thanks to drummer Danny Fischer.

On the subject of unusual horns, Murray is credited with playing the "balto!" (exclamation point included) on "Meat Without Feat." The credits don't offer much insight into exactly what the instrument is, but the instrument that sounds like a tenor in this emits some nice raspy growls, somewhat like vintage Archie Shepp, and it adds to the song's funky vamp and theme of long tones. Ironically, Lundbom's solo doesn't catch fire here because he limits himself to one range of the guitar.

Big Five Chord isn't afraid to go for the throat if the music calls for it, even if it means that Irabagon pulls out the MOPDtK trick of ending a solo by sitting on a "wrong" note and holding it. But this is high energy music, combining somewhat straight ahead foundations with a rock execution, and hopefully Lundbom will start getting more attention for his fresh perspective, both as a writer and player.

(For a review of the last Big Five Chord album, see my entry from March 10, 2010.)

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