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Jon Lundbom's Big Five Chord: No New Tunes (2012)

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Jon Lundbom's Big Five Chord: No New Tunes Certainly not straight-ahead jazz, decidedly not fusion, and not really free-jazz either, guitarist/composer Jon Lundbom and his Big Five Chord have taken a decidedly idiosyncratic path that simultaneously eschews and embraces all of these sub-genres, while largely rejecting their collective stylistic baggage. This judiciously iconoclastic individualism is what one can expect from Lundbom, a musician whose activities encompass indie rock (with Wolf and the Wayside), avant-garde classical music, and in-depth jazz-based investigations of the music of singer/songwriters Merle Haggard, Rufus Wainwright
Rufus Wainwright
b.1973
vocalist
, and Tom Waits
Tom Waits
Tom Waits
b.1949
vocalist
. It's a little surprising, then, that No New Tunes, Big Five Chord's fifth album—available in either digital download or 12" vinyl form— hews somewhat closer to the free-bop end of the spectrum than its previous efforts. And it's a no less rewarding or inspiring listen.

The band's membership has remained pretty stable for the past few years, and the musical chemistry at work throughout No New Tunes is readily palpable. The only personnel shift since 2009's Accomplish Jazz (Hot Cup) has been the departure of drummer Danny Fischer. Here, he's quite ably replaced by Dan Monaghan
Dan Monaghan
Dan Monaghan

drums
who, like Lundbom, is comfortable and creative in any sort of musical setting. His slow-drag pile-driver beat underneath the tidal pull of Moppa Elliott
Moppa Elliott
Moppa Elliott
b.1978
bass
's irresistible double-time bass line makes "The Other Third One" a wholly remarkable experience. Along with Lundbom, saxophonists Jon Irabagon
Jon Irabagon
Jon Irabagon

saxophone
and Bryan Murray
Bryan Murray
Bryan Murray

sax, tenor
form one of the most explosive frontline combinations in modern jazz today, outside of label-mates Mostly Other People Do the Killing. Speaking of MOPDtK, bassist Elliott also holds down the bass chair in that stellar quartet. Here, he seems a little freer and less constrained to a support role. His duet with Lundbom on the album's sole ballad, "And Be Made Visible (Part 1)," displays a depth, warmth, and virtuosity that might be overlooked in the hurly-burly of MOPDtK's fervid explorations.

Lundbom, a native Chicagoan who has studied with guitarists Ben Monder
Ben Monder
Ben Monder
b.1962
guitar
, Jack Wilkins
Jack Wilkins
Jack Wilkins
b.1944
guitar
and John Scofield
John Scofield
John Scofield
b.1951
guitar
, is a wildly unpredictable and aggressive soloist. Occasionally there's a soupçon of Scofield's bluesy phrasing, something especially evident on "The Bad! Thing." The frantic rapid fire stutters and manic strumming on "Talent for Surrender" brings edgier players such as James Blood Ulmer
James Blood Ulmer
James Blood Ulmer
b.1942
guitar
and Sonny Sharrock
Sonny Sharrock
Sonny Sharrock
1940 - 1994
guitar, electric
to mind. On "The Other Third One," Lundbom waxes both brainy and raucous, stopping just short of heavy metal shredding. Both saxophonists have plenty of opportunity to shine and stretch out, though their most remarkable playing may actually be the duet that closes out the swift 6/8 hard-bopping "The Bad! Thing." Here, Irabagon, on soprano, and Murray, on balto (an alto fitted with a baritone mouthpiece), twist and skirl around one another, thrillingly raising the improvisational ante right up to the piece's abrupt end.

Despite its self-deprecating insider-joke title, No New Tunes virtually crackles with excitement and, well, newness.


Track Listing: The Bad! Thing; Talent for Surrender; And Be Made Visible (Part 1); And Be Made Visible (Part 2); The Other Third One; Of Being Done To.

Personnel: Jon Lundbom: guitar; Jon Irabagon: alto and soprano saxophones; Bryan Murray: tenor and balto! saxophones; Moppa Elliott: bass; Dan Monaghan: drums.

Record Label: Hot Cup Records


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