Mark Stanley Quartet: Humans (2004)
Rusting, abandoned cars. Empty urban streets. Dilapidated piers. Dusty, broken-windowed factories and small bars populated by regulars with their shirts-rolled up. Beer, not cocktails. If there is such a thing as garage jazz, the Mark Stanley Quartet’s latest release, Humans , would fit nicely into the category.
Working off of nine original compositions, the Mark Stanley Quartet reminds you of the power to be found in good, old-fashioned songwriting. Each of the tunes presents strong, clearly defined melodies, hard-hitting grooves, and plenty of down and dirty jamming. Stanley clearly feels no compulsion to restrict his playing within the tonal and stylistic confines of mainstream jazz guitar, and though he displays plenty of chops, willingly departs into the realms of rock and funk, even slipping in a few moments of distortion-heavy grunge. Combined with Peter Fraize’s throaty, equally tough saxophone work, drummer Mike Kuhl’s heavy-footed beats, and Jeff Reed’s solid bass, the overall sound produced by the group is rough-hewn, direct, and compelling.
While every track might not hit the mark, peaks like the catchy-phrased “Small Face,” the electric blues piece “Blue Octopus,” and the gruffly experimental, “Horrible Helga” present gut-grabbing music that's simultaneously accessible and skillfully produced. Strong-willed, rugged, and intelligent, Humans should not be underestimated.
Track Listing: 1. Cat Cat Cat 2. Small Face 3. God On A Stick 4. Horrible Helga 5. Humans 6. Pussy 7. Blue Octopus 8. Paramour 9. Diaspora
Personnel: Mark Stanley: Guitar; Peter Fraize: Saxophone; Jeff Reed: Bass; Mike Kuhl: Drums.