Dan Clucas / Immediately: Exile (2006)
For Exile, longtime Los Angeles cornet count Dan Clucas convenes a quintet he calls Immediately. He uses this rare session as leader to showcase his appealing writing, blistering technique, and good ear for his bandmates. All five improvisers listen hard and create a distinctive sound, equally at ease playing the arrangement or walking in space.
Brian Walsh plays a tenor that's so fat it sometimes bursts at the seams. His clarinet, while considerably trimmer, uses the lack of mass for higher flights. Guitarist Noah Phillips' gifts as a sonic chameleon alter the quintet's sound track by track. He imitates synthesizers, splashes random radio noise, buzzes prepared strings, or simply applies fingers to frets with an astounding selection of notes. Bassist Michael Ibarra's deep resonance keeps time and timelessness. Drummer Rich West's wide-awake polyrhythmic attack paces the ensemble's many mood swings well. Clucas' writing employs hip jazz heads discarded for hair raising freedom rides that resolve back to the theme and out.
"Stating the Obvious flows in on a salacious strut. Ibarra and West set the groove as a silky, snake-stringed Phillips interlude precedes the funk theme arrangement. A beat's pause, then the group spreads out, Phillips crunchy beneath Walsh's flaring clarinet. Clucas drops the mute to blister the brass, and Phillips follows with a twisty grind. The slightly broken post bop of "You Say tears apart behind Phillips' fuzz-tone tales. Clucas recovers the skewed swing with a hard trumpet run. Walsh plays big like Sonny Rollins, and Phillips adds slippery trans-terrestial tones in support. "Exile occasionally blooms into large, humid tango motifs, which deconstruct on variation until they melt into seething blow-fests.
West's subtle percussion introduces and underscores the sparse, balladic The Black Horn. Joining the evocative muted trumpet and ticklish clarinet, Phillips adds quiet radio noise. The sunny "Mothers and Daughters follows Ibarra's jagged bass line into a vigorous workout. After a soul-jazz tease, "Wheat and Weeds gets down to craggier business, still played at an easygoing pace.
Immediately plays with passion and daring, creating music that remains grounded while reaching for the sky.
Track Listing: Stating the Obvious; You Say (for Bobby Bradford); Exile (for Astor Piazzolla); The Black Horn (for John Carter); Mothers and Daughters; Wheat and Weeds
Personnel: Dan Clucas: cornet; Brian Walsh: clarinet, tenor saxophone; Noah Phillips: guitar; Michael Ibarra: contrabass; Rich West: drums.