Ulu: Nerve (2003)
Even if just from their similar instrumentation, Ulu strongly sounds like another modern groove/jam organ trio – Medeski Martin & Wood – riding with a bad-ass tenor player (Gardner) roughshod over funky jazz-rock fusion. This MM&W comparison is inevitable from the first bars of the opening “Where’s Paul” and only grows stronger as Nerve expands and deepens its instrumental reach in “All You Can Eat” and “Rollin’,” big fat hot buffets of computer-age yet old-school tenor/organ cool groove and jam. It’s a powerful undertow that pulls the listener’s ear swirling in a whirlpool of fusion and funk.
Though Never grooves, it does more than that. “The Tragic Flight of Sir Donkey Hawk” navigates jazz-rock of Zappa-esque stature, strains of rock and jazz intertwined in the keyboard and sax solos and in the rhythm section churning underneath, discharging in bizarre, unintelligible chanting and cacophony. “Bovine Confines” distorts the saxophone and keyboards to bleed their screaming into each other (a vegetarian instrumental tone poem?) yet also wanders down several other instrumental alleys, including a mainstream piano solo and brief Latin shimmy. “Spare Tissue” sounds oddly timed, like King Crimson, and suggests other reference points like Emerson Lake & Palmer that are more progressive rock than progressive jazz.
Track Listing: Where's Paul; Vaporize; Rollin'; March of the Sloth People; Give Yourself Away; Spare Tissue; All You Can Eat; Shady Lady; Bovine Confines; Reunited; Slinky; The Tragic Flight of Sir Donkey Hawk; Space Oddity
Personnel: Scott Chasolen (Rhodes, clavinet, organ, moog, piano, ARP strings, spoken word); Josh Dion (drums and percussion); Aaron Gardner (tenor saxophone and flute); Brian Killeen (electric and acoustic bass)
Record Label: Harmonized Records
Style: Fringes of Jazz