Besides the obvious technicalities, i.e. superior musicianship and crafty arrangements, trumpeter Jack Walrath aims his aspirations towards an elevated entertainment factor with this fine release. And for the uninformed, Walrath’s resume includes high profile stints with Charles Mingus, Ray Charles, Gary Peacock and many others.
The CD cover art reminds this writer of the late Frank Zappa’s Weasel’s Ripped My Flesh LP, although the theme presented here is perhaps a tad less biting! Walrath finds a near perfect foil with the extremely talented New York City vocalist Miles Griffith while ex-“Defunkt” guitarist Bill Bickford lays down the funk, rock, and jazz chord voicings. The band commences the proceedings with its gregarious spin on Mingus’ hard driving yet memorably melodic, “Rats and Moles (Black Bats and Poles).” On this piece, Griffith scats in unison with Walrath’s blazing lines atop the rhythm section’s maddening pulse. In addition, the musicians collectively instill a humorous muse into the proceedings.
They mix it up rather well, evidenced by Walrath’s softly stated wah-wah trumpet lines on the playful ballad/mid-tempo swing vamp titled, “If Anya Goes To Edinburgh.” Griffith’s sometimes-gravelly toned delivery makes for a near perfect fit on both ballads and up-tempo works. Thoughts of Desi Arnaz surface on the wittily titled mambo, “Quiero Ser Tu Cerdo (I Want To Be Your Pig). Whereas the artists launch into a hybrid swing/rock vibe in concert with gobs of firepower during, “Dream Track.”
Blazing guitar solos, boisterous percussion interludes, and the trumpeter’s encounters with Griffith signify a mere iota of the numerous highlights. Overall, the band crafts a diverting story that ostensibly equates to a true labor of love. (Feverishly recommended)