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David Aaron's Short Memory: Cynical Rat Bastard (2006)

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David Aaron's Short Memory: Cynical Rat Bastard How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

There seems to be some external literary programme to this set, but ignoring everything but the music, I can only say this: what a very good and individual tenor saxophonist! David Aaron's done a wide variety of things, so I read. All I know is this one CD, and that's enough for the present context. I'm almost lulled into silence by satisfaction, beginning with a minute or so of a warm-up.

Aaron stays longer with the second track, unfolding enough of it to satisfy. Nephew of Sonny Rollins, nephew of Jim Hall, bass and drums? Seems like a fair comparison, since nephews don't as a rule replicate uncles, and sometimes they pick up on what the uncle didn't. A whole new range of contemporary references, no abandonment of duties...

"Schnerdle" edges into Klezmatics territory, with drumming of an ancient New Orleans sort and Jewish guitar. For a moment I thought "Nobbylocks" was opening with bowed bass, but the sound was soon revealed to be that of Aaron's unaccompanied tenor, whose normal post-Charlie Rouse buzz resumed soon enough, in a minute-long delicate duet with guitar. The following track has bass and drums in something like a meditative Mingus theme, Matt Wigton's strong bass carrying the still introverted tenor work from "Ila's Furnace" into "Sophia's Diary."

After the less than half-minute long "City Eyes"—nice these brief interludes, relaxed, like on a gig—there's some singing of the title of "Soy Sauce Chicken on Rice" by (the sleeve tells me) all but Aaron. Then come vocal interjections telling the chef to get some of the stuff ready, and a bit of singalong also after a Mingus fashion: as on Mingus's "Eat that Chicken." Perhaps this is one of those performances which explain what happened before the famous one. ("Order that chicken!")

"When I'm Alone, Chicks Go Wild!" is splendidly good-humoured and perfectly serious jazz. On this whole set Aaron's a tenorist more after the fashion of (very approximately) Booker Ervin than the Coltrane clone some always expect (ask the venerable critic Ira Gitler!). "When I'm Alone" lets Rob Ritchie show his guitar mettle in a straight-up solo, just as he does with manifestations of colour in accompaniment throughout.

On the listed closer, "Sydney," Aaron plays in a respectable ballad style which the guitarist at the very least emulates. Then there's about one minute's silence, followed by a theme statement in wonderful lower register tenor with just bass and drums, the tenor is back, but more in the alto register. Lovely blues playing, before the lower register theme statement again.

Fashionable? So what! The music is good nevertheless.

Track Listing: Landshark; For Ever Green; Cynical Rat Bastard; Schnerdle; Nobbylocks; Ilas Furnace; Sophias Diary; City Eyes; Soy Sauce Chicken On Rice; When Im Alone, Chicks Go Wild; Dutch Courage; Corn Dog Hamper; Sydney.

Personnel: David Aaron: tenor saxophone; Rob Ritchie: guitar, vocals; Greg Ritchie: drums, vocals; Matt Wigton: bass, vocals.

Record Label: Short Memory

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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