Iron Kim Style: Iron Kim Style (2010)
Iron Kim Style is quite humorous but serious tooThe eponymous debut of an improvisational jazz-rock quintet that is: Built around two guitars, with no keyboards, plus trumpet and bass clarinet as the other solo voices; named for both the North Korean dictator and the martial arts style instructed by Grandmaster "Iron" Kim; and, creative home for some of Seattle's most exploratory jazz-rock instrumentalists, including drummer Jay Jaskot and guitarist Dennis Rea, both of whom perform in another progressive jazz-rock instrumental band, Moraine.
No polite introduction: You begin right in the middle of frantic tumult on the "Mean Streets of Pyongyang," ten spacious minutes that leap and bounce through wild-eyed echoes of Miles Davis' electric fusion explorations, with trumpet blasts that struggle in between chaotic guitars and drums which burn to tear the whole town down. This dissolves into the spasmodic guitar funk "Gibberish Falter," which sets the stage for "Po' Brief," an electric guitar trio improvisation called to full stop by the closing clarion trumpet.
"Adrift" shifts the improvisational architecture from electric Miles to Discipline-era King Crimson; guitar harmonics frame its opening, releasing bass clarinet and trumpet, and then gradually darken its sheltering sky. These same guitars chime like bells and groan like monsters washing over "Amber Waves of Migraine."
After the misty reverie "Dreams from Our Dear Leader," Iron Kim Style concludes with its two best musical puns. "Jack Out the Kims" honors two of Michigan's hardest hard rock legends, the classic MC5 rave-up "Kick Out the Jams" and the gloriously messy, rampaging bull elephant sound of the Stooges (but, again, with trumpet). "Slouchin' at the Savoy" ends this tale of Iron Kim by removing the guitars and bass, leaving trumpet to sing a quicksilver New Orleans blues duet with drums.
Entirely improvised, Iron Kim Style features absolutely no verse/chorus structures and very few repeating melodies or phrases, so it can sometimes feel like a long series of introductions that reach very few conclusions. But move beyond this, and Iron Kim Style provides a challenging, complex, and ultimately rewarding listenjust not an easy one.
Track Listing: Mean Streets of Pyongyang; Gibberish Falter; Po' Brief; Don Quixotic; Adrift; Amber Waves of Migraine; Pachinko Malice; Dreams from Our Dear Leader; Jack Out the Kims; Slouchin' at the Savoy.
Personnel: Dennis Rea: six-string electric guitar; Ryan Berg: bass guitar; Bill Jones: trumpet; Thaddaeus Brophy: twelve-string electric guitar; Jay Jaskot: drums; Izaak Mills: bass clarinet.