Chris Lacinak: Boom (2004)
The songs on Boom have an air of familiarity, as if you've heard them somewhere but can't quite remember where or when (a form of déjà vu, incidentally, which commonly afflicts Hart/Rodgers fans). Yet the odds that listeners have heard these before, especially if they are discovering New Orleans (by way of a ten-year stint in New York) drummer Chris Lacinak for the first time, are slim. These nine charts are all originals, spawned during an impromptu recording session in summer 2003 after Lacinak had returned to his Louisiana hometown and rounded up like-minded area musicians.
Lacinak has described this album as an exercise in revisiting his musical roots and New Orleans traditions, though in his own case, this may not simply mean hot jazz. As an erstwhile member of the group Tribe Nunzio and freelancer in the New York Drummers Collective, Lacinak gleaned a few tips and tricks from the popular music songwriting guide: hence that air of instant familiarity, not to mention the compulsively toe-tapping rhythms and appealing melodies. His bandmates for this recording sessionin particular pianist David Torkanowski and bassist Jim Singletonjoin him wholeheartedly in this venture, incorporating the spontaneity of jazz with the accessibility of pop.
Boom, therefore, is an enjoyable disc. It has its share of memorable hooks and enthusiastic, highly capable playing. The opener, "T Bag," and the succeeding track, "Sidestep," are perfect examples of this. But very little else on the album seems to distinguish it from the many others just like it. The two-minute drum solo "String Thing" isn't a particularly bright spot on Lacinak's résumé. It has a dull, one-dimensional sound, although it can be said that it functions relatively well as an intro to the entertaining "West Bank Boogaloo," into which it segues seamlessly. "Grateful" is downright mawkish. "Motif" begins well, but it drifts into cacophonic spaghetti that is neither free jazz nor amusingly zany.
This is a very competent lineup, and Lacinak fares well as leader; but Boom never quite rises above what you might call a pleasant mediocrity. It would be interesting to hear the results if this same group returned to the studio with the sole intention of recording something truly remarkable.
Track Listing: 1. T Bag; 2. Sidestep; 3. String Thing; 4. West Bank Boogaloo; 5. Motif; 6. Horace; 7. Homage; 8. General Meyer; 9. Grateful
Personnel: Chris Lacinak (drums); James Singelton (bass); David Torkanowski (piano, Hammond); Frederick "Shepp" Sheppard (tenor sax); Michael Ray (trumpet); Scott Bourgeois (alto sax); Mike Pellera (piano); Jessy Boyd (bass)
Record Label: Drum Parade
Style: Dixieland/New Orleans/Swing