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Steve Horowitz: New Monsters (2012)

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Steve Horowitz: New Monsters How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Old monsters? They were frightening, gargantuan, mythical beasts: fire-breathing, blood-lusting and not at all willing to put together anything close to a danceable riff. New Monsters, at least as envisioned by bassist Steve Horowitz on this Posi-Tone album, are a much more engaging bunch. There's still some fire-breathing in evidence, but the blood lust is kept at bay in favor of an abundance of delightful melodies, harmonies and rhythms.

Horowitz, who favors the electric bass guitar rather than the upright acoustic instrument, is at the head of a quintet of experienced players. It's a tight, tough unit, capable of some very powerful playing but also of much subtler and more controlled musicianship, as shown on "Miracle Melancholy" and "Journey To The East."

While Horowitz leads the session, tenor saxophonist Dan Plonsey, a long-time collaborator, composed all of the original tunes. Plonsey, whose previous credits include work with Anthony Braxton
Anthony Braxton
Anthony Braxton
b.1945
reeds
, Tom Waits
Tom Waits
Tom Waits
b.1949
vocalist
and Eugene Chadbourne
Eugene Chadbourne
Eugene Chadbourne
b.1954
guitar
, cheerfully throws a few curve balls with some fun titles. These are complemented by the cover art (another fine Posi-Tone design), but they don't always accurately signpost the mood of the music. "Vision Pyramid Collapse" is the best of these—an almost apocalyptic phrase which fronts a joyous tune that incorporates a slinky bass line, jangly prepared piano and a catchy saxophone riff.

The jagged piano and drums interplay of "Brains For Breakfast" introduces "Herald Of Zombies." Once again, Plonsey's titles are diverting: this is no soundtrack to a George A. Romero nightmare. "Herald Of Zombies" sounds more like a Raymond Scott
Raymond Scott
b.1908
cartoon tune before Plonsey opens up with his most powerful solo, with pianist Scott R. Looney gradually coming to the fore with his own percussive scattergun showcase. Plonsey and alto saxophonist Steve Adams engage in imaginative, dueling interplay on "Shattered Silence:" indeed, this dual sax attack could well be said to characterize the New Monsters sound.

The band covers two tunes—John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
's "India" and Eric Dolphy
Eric Dolphy
Eric Dolphy
1928 - 1964
reeds
's "The Red Planet." The numbers are merged together and given a driving and energetic arrangement, with some more terrific unison playing from the tenor and alto saxophones of Plonsey and Adams.

So these New Monsters are fun, funky, and far from something to be afraid of. Unless, of course, they're hiding under the bed.

Track Listing: Imperfect Life; Mirror Earth; Journey To The East; India/Red Planet; New Monsters; Vision Pyramid Collapse; Miracle Melancholy; Dragon Of Roses; New Boots For Bigfoot; Shattered Silence; Brains For Breakfast; Herald Of Zombies; Cylinder.

Personnel: Dan Plonsey: tenor saxophone; Steve Adams: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute; Scott Looney: piano; Steve Horowitz: bass; Jim Bove: drums.

Record Label: Posi-Tone Records


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