Trance by Jack BowersMore articles about Jamie Begian
Jamie Begian Big Band: Big Fat Grin
If the music on Jamie Begian's Big Fat Grin were any bigger and fatter, the grin would challenge that of Lewis Carroll's Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland. No, not the cat that appears in Tim Burton's film, because that image is too phantasmagorical, but rather the wonderful, original creation that appears in the book. It is there that the image is charming, mischievous and truly iconic.
's "Watermelon Man" and the dancing nature of the piece is quite seductive. "Halay" dances like a team of dervishes and kicks up a storm that thundering and shimmering at the speedy and electrifying hands of drummer, Peter Retzlaff, before returning to its ululating Turkish theme. The charged ions of the song draw everything into a sort of vortex that is stirred up magnificently by the ensemble. "Patience" is a more serious song, based on a tantalising diatonic phrase. However, if the image of the Cheshire cat may be used here, Begian may have found a way to express the joke of its beheading in the Alice story, where it continues to disappear until all that remains of it is the smile, thereby tricking the Queen of Hearts into calling the whole thing off.
In many respects, Jamie Begian's music has all of that character, making the big fat grin of the music by the big band on this album more than a wonderful metaphor. Indeed it embodies all the mischief and character of Carroll's creation and thus the music becomes a remarkable allegorical tale, on that is richly described in the title track through solos that unravel like dense whorls from the exact report of the downbeat. The rapid cyclical thrust of each soloon guitar, bass and tenor saxophonecreates a spectacularly playful image and then, remarkably, when the ensemble returns, the whole theme inverts itself until the sound fades like the disappearing body of the cat in the tale.
However, not only the title track, but all of the music actually wears this fabulous grin. The southern swagger of "Funky Coffee" is driven by a delightful cacophony of brass and winds and an almost drunken rhythm section. The song's changes are based around those of Herbie Hancock
Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde
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