West Coast musicians have always played faster and much looser with "the rules" of musical order. Hard-boppers chilled to the cool sounds of Gerry Mulligan, while Dexter Gordon, Charles Mingus, and Art Pepper redefined bebop. Bobby Hutcherson and Charles Lloyd spoke the language of a post Coltrane world as Ornette Coleman rewrote the rules. Today the scene in the West remains defiantly separate from the East Coast jazz establishment, even with breakthrough artists like Charlie Hunter, Bill Frisell, and Wayne Horvitz. New directions in jazz can be heard coming from Peter Apfelbaum, Gino Robair, Beth Custer and the artists collective that occasionally turns out records under the name President's Breakfast. Organized by drummer Click Dark, PB is made up of between 20 and 30 musicians at a time.
This outing entitled III C follows Bar.B.Que Dali (1996) with guest Don Byron and the 1995 Doo Process. What PB is about is the intersection of funk, the George Clinton kind, with just about anything you can find lying around the house. This time it is guitars, brass, and Hip-Hop. Dark's message throughout is his opposition to the death penalty, opening with the words of inmate Kevin Cooper from San Quentin death row. The album closes with a recording by Mumia Abu-Jamal speaking over the heavy bass-line. My guess is Dark will do whatever it take to get the word out. In between, PB dishes out an electric Milesian track "Giants," some dub, and did I mention the funk. Lots of funk.
The highlight for jazz fans is their take on the three part "Love Supreme" by John Coltrane. Don Byron's back to cover the Coltrane melody along with saxophonist Kenny Brooks. This self-assured take updates the classic tune with a bit of sacrilege, adding electronics, more bass, and on the third movement a destroy-all-guitars version by Alex Candelaria and Adam Shereborne. PB dives headfirst into Parliament territory on "Rooscus Brothers" and keeps coming at you with electronic on ‘Restless One." PB also includes 16 bonus tracks of samples for the listener to er, sample.
Is this jazz? It is doubtful. It does entertain, with its collection of talented jazz artists that drop in to contribute to Click Dark's message of compassion for those wrongly convicted and outrage at the system.
Personnel: Click Dark - Drums, Percussion, Toys, Keyboards; Nate Pitts - Bass, Guitar; Will Bernard - Guitar; Marty Wehner - Trombone; Dred Scott - Clavinet, Bell; Jim Peterson - Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Shenai; Chuck McKinnon - Trumpet; Kenny Brooks - Tenor Saxophone; Don Byron - Clarinet, Toothbrush; Francis Wong - Tenor Saxophone; Ben Silverman - Clarinet; Steve Forker - Trumpet; Miya Masaoka - Koto; Brian Pardo - Guitar; Alex Candelaria - Guitar; Adam Shereborne - Guitar; Jeff Campbell - Bagpipes; Dave Kloski - Guitar;