”I don’t know where I’m going or where it’s taking me but it’s the most fun I’ve had in a long time.”
JazzThing is a mixed blessing: musically deft but lyrically thirsty. In this collection, the Canadian guitarist wrestles the confines of the rock writing that has ruled most of his professional life. This record pays respect to jazz traditions and showcases some great musicianship in the process.
Bachman pays tribute to jazz tradition in his own words. It works: Bachman’s original verse recalls those sung by the greats in the last 50 years. However, these are his sentiments—a new spin on some of the oldest lyrical themes in music. Bachman’s distinct vocal delivery suits blues more than freeform improvisation.
“How could our colours have faded?”
Most of the music in this chronicle defies ostentation. On “Rose Coloured Glasses,” the form fits its own sentiments. Chris Stigers shines in a sax solo that pauses and moves comfortably. Bachman and his many accompanists cohere nicely in straight ensemble. In “Summertime,” Lenny Breau tastefully ranges across his fretboard to create the purest trio jazz that one could hear. “Breau’s Place (Quiet & Blue)” displays Randy Bachman’s love of blues and live performance. “I Walk the Line” highlights gorgeous key work from Bill Sample. Listeners will be delighted, if not surprised, by the majority of songs.
“Dead Cool” is the schizophrenic exception. Bachman’s hard rock guitar sound clashes with the framework that opens the tune; it fits with the opposing rhythm and piano framework in which the song ends as though someone had pulled the plug. Bachman unleashes some of his best playing here but listeners may have to be peeled off the ceiling from a song that goes from peace to aural assault in 330 seconds.
The album’s conclusion, “Our Leaves Are Green Again,” contains a gorgeous melodic phrase co-written by Bachman and pianist Stephan Moccio. Bachman and Moccio chose to arrange the song for solitary statement, but greater orchestration offered a golden opportunity for crescendo.
JazzThing reveals Randy Bachman’s playing prowess and his natural tendency towards rock. Bachman deserves credit for choosing a forum that bucks his musical history. We should all be so ambitious.
Personnel: Randy Bachman: guitar, vocals; Lenny Breau, guitar; Joel Kroeker, guitar; Ken Lister, bass; Andr