The Sardonics: Catch the Red Eye (2002)

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Northern California's fun-loving jazz quartet emerge from their hole again with a full-length offering that's a real blast. The Sardonics come by their jazz sensibilities honestly, but they temper technique with a hearty sense of humor and a rejuvenating disregard for artsy pretension. Musicianship never takes a back seat to wit, though they might bicker over who gets to ride shotgun.

"Cookie Sticks" shows off the virtuosic face of the band, as the tenor and guitar roar through the quick bop melody. Aaron Weiss' electric bass is important to the mix here; he shows a facility for brisk neck-walking that many of today's electric players sorely lack. The next track is a loving homage to John Coltrane, with tenor man Aaron Thurman faithful to the legend's spirit without playing the copycat. The wackiness jumps out with the backwards intro on "What It Shall Be", a feature for guitarist Ross Hammond's conscientious comping skills. Drummer Todd Temby glues the whole popsicle-stick conglomerate together with his booty-tight rhythms.

Various other scents and colors are dripped in: happy funk on "Soul Soothing Sermon" (Weiss' double-stops are primo) and "A Baker's Dozen", cool-shaded strutting on "Driveway Ditty", and mutant Adderley soulfulness on "March of the Deformed". Things wind down with canine Homey barking the vocals on the short, sweet closer, a goofy wrapup of a great time. The Sardonics are mos' definitely a band to watch in the near future.

(Contact TheSardonics@aol.com for more information about this disc.)

Track Listing: Cookie Sticks; From India With Love; What It Shall Be; Driveway Ditty; Soul Soothing Sermon; Submerged/Preston Brooks' Caning Rage; A Baker's Dozen; March of the Deformed; Homey In 3s...

Personnel: Aaron Thurman, tenor sax; Ross Hammond, guitar; Aaron Weiss, bass; Todd Temby, drums; Homey Temby, "vocals" on #10.

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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