Like so much that is New York (insert your own NYC gripe here) the late 80s early 90s avant scene turned to arty, less accessible music once it gained popularity. The Downtown attitude was/is if the multitudes dig it, it’s time to change. The fun that was the Knitting Factory scene has devolved into serious music making (read boring). Bill Frisell and Wayne Horvitz fled NY for Oregon. We’re lucky for two things, Tonic (a club on the lower lower East Side) and the entire West Coast of this country. Tonic is reanimating the early music experimentation of the Knit and the music coming from the Northwest is re-igniting the fun in jazz, (see my review of Porterhouse Quintet in this issue). Personal favorites from the rainy states are Wayne Horvitz’ Zony Mash and Ponga, Critters Buggin,’ and everything and anything by Bill Frisell.
But wait there’s more! Saxophonist Jessica Lurie, who gained critical attention with the all-woman Billy Tipton Saxophone Quartet in the early 90s, leads the trio Living Daylights into the jazz/rock/funk arena. Maybe better said rock/jazz/funk or funk/rock & jazz. Blat! Those that wish to categorize also seek to destroy. What it is they do is as free spirited as this whole jam band scene, music beholden to no master except groove.
Besides Lurie the band is comprised of drummer Dale Fanning (Mark Whitfield, Wayne Horvitz, and Critters Buggin’) and bassist Arne Livingston (Joshua Redman, Roy Hargrove, Brad Shepik, and Antonio Hart). Their previous albums, all consistent rockers, are Falling Down Laughing (1995) and 500 Pound Cat (1998). This year’s offering adds guitarist Bill Frisell to the mix on four tracks. What is refreshing about LD is their lack of concern for the piety of jazz or rock (is it a Seattle thing?). Lurie’s saxophone is Jackie McLean aggressive and Harold Land loud. Arne Livingston’s bass playing like his counterpart, guitarist Charlie Hunter, often holds down the bass-line while playing melody. Drummer Fanning is beholden to no style, rock, jazz, nor funk, American, Middle Eastern, nor African.
With Bill Frisell in the mix the band gets (besides exposure to a wider audience) the eclectic collector himself. They groove together on the opener, apply a heavy dose of funk on “I Dare U” with Frisell reverting to his rock mode, and play the closest thing to a ballad with “Homo Valans.” For the most part Frisell adapts to LD’s styling with the exception of “Repeatable Swing,” a piece of Frisell Americana.
The remaining five tracks are a credit to the trios resourceful music making. They are the promise that was once the Lounge Lizards, Rootless Cosmopolitans, Sort Of Quartet, and Bazooka.
Track List:Pike Or Pine; Electric Rosary; Mayakovsky’s Smile; Get Bone-A-Fide; I Dare U; Repeatable Swing; Fall; Homo Volans; Sunday Meeting Club.