Saxophonist Tim O’Dell’s Before My Life
takes the listener on an odyssey through most of the jazz styles of the past 40 years. An exploratory album, Tim O’Dell still finds an easy cohesion despite juxtaposing so many raw elements.
From the opening "Id," (an oblation to Filles De Kilimanjaro era Miles Davis) O’Dell moves into freer territory ultimately ending in a trombone and saxophone duet called simply "Etude". The hypnotic "Free by twelve," however, provides the highlight of the album. This track features Tim O’Dell strolling over an exotic atonal loop laid down by guitarist Steve Grismore. The track builds with the introduction of two drummers and finally with a jagged horn riff that I can only describe as the sound of rush hour. "Free by Twelve" opens up the album and segues to its dénouement, the oddly appropriate two drummer blues of "Jack Slap" which finds Steve Grismore’s guitar sounding eerily like Larry Young’s organ.
Before My Life is a pastiche of the most influential jazz of the last 30 years. Bill Frisell, Ornette Coleman, the more adventurous Blue Note albums of the sixties and 60s Miles Davis all inform Tim O’Dell’s creations. This is the sound of searching for an original voice and expanding American art.