Cloning Americana: For Which It Stands (2011)
Does such an acrimonious reality have room for the luscious sound of Drewes' saxophones and bass clarinet to coexist with the forthright bopping of Eric Dolphy? Does the quietly mournful music of this ensemble (albeit a quartet) sit where the strident holy rolling of bassist Charles Mingus once sat? Strange but true. The music of Cloning Americana is charged with quiet protest. It is music that questions before the stammering of machinegun protest. The ensemble presents its unique protest music in a singularly harmonic, tonal manner. The cheers in "The Change-Up" nestle cheek by jowl with the madness of "Poster Boy." Yet "Comic Relief" stands in sharp contrast to "For Which It Stands." All of this, however, is meant to protest the declining values of America.
Cloning Americana presents the other side to stridency: calm. The turmoil in the soul is also manifest in the taut energy of Versace's dazzling runs on the piano. Lee's occasionally mournful bass speaks volumes for the white hot fever with which he rips through "Just Running Around." Only Hirshfield's rattling of the tom-toms and his tumultuous clashes with the cymbals show how taut the music really is. It pirouettes on the end of the ultimate stretch of the elastic and it could snap at any time, but is held together by the poise and grace of a band that is determined to sing protest and anger and grief through harmonic engagement, quietude and the joy of the true ideals of a socially just America.
Track Listing: The Lament; Don’t Put Your “Hoe-Down”; The Change-Up; Old Dirt; Poster Boy; Our Pastime, Passed Down; The Road That Leads To; On The Rise; Of Two Minds; Comic Relief; Wetlands; Just Running Around; For Whish It Stands.
Personnel: Billy Drewes: saxophones, bass clarinet and vocal; Scott Lee: bass; Gary Versace: piano; Jeff Hirshfield: drums.
Record Label: Sunnyside Records
Style: Modern Jazz