This disc had me from the first few notes, and that's a rare event, especially when it is by a new (unfamiliar) artist.
Cornetist Dan Clucas can be heard on a couple Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet (large ensemble) sessions, but otherwise you might not have heard his music. And besides drummer Rich West, who has worked with Vinny Golia's Nine Winds label, this disc is a nice introduction to a few other unfamiliar artists.
Clucas opens with the funky, odd-metered "Stating the Obvious, which mixes a bit of John Abercrombie guitar work by Noah Phillips with Brian Walsh's snaking clarinet sound. It's a composition that gathers music from many sources, taking an outward stroll but landing back on the groove block.
Clucas makes an interesting choice with the cornet here. His dedication to Bobby Bradford on "You Say begins with an Ornette/Bradford 1960s sound, but quickly steps on the gas with some very impressive tenor sounds by Brian Walsh. Phillips is credited with guitar only, but he stretches his instrument into the electronics category by twisting knobs and applying effects. Bassist Michael Ibarra keeps matters rooted with an acoustic time structure throughout, making this a very accessible recording.
The band asks you to play "find the tango" on the Astor Piazolla-dedicated title track. Oops, there it is, but they don't stay long before it's off to new time zones and adventures. While purists may demur, Clucas and his swirling caldron of ideas effectively keep the soup from spilling over, always summing up and returning to his original thoughts.
The very Americana feel of "Mothers And Daughters is once again framed by Ibarra, with Rich West and Phillips breaking towards freedom. Clucas' composition, akin to drummer Matt Wilson's writing, is the star here. He seems to be able to capture a folksy angle on jazz. For a West Coast artist, he certainly has a Midwestern sound.
Exile is a precious find in the new artist(s) category.
Track Listing: Stating The Obvious; You Say (for Bobby Bradford); Exile (for Astor Piazolla); The Black
Horn (for John Carter); Mothers And Daughters; Wheat And Weeds.
Personnel: Dan Clucas: cornet; Brian Walsh: clarinet, tenor saxophone; Noah Phillips: electric
guitar; Michael Ibarra: contrabass; Rich West: drums.