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Lucky 7's: Pluto Junkyard (2009)

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Lucky 7's: Pluto Junkyard How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The brainchild of trombonists Jeb Bishop and Jeff Albert
Jeff Albert
Jeff Albert
b.1970
trombone
, the Lucky 7's are a consummate example of post-Vandermark Chicago-based collectivism. Bishop's longstanding work with fellow artists such as Rob Mazurek
Rob Mazurek
Rob Mazurek
b.1965
cornet
, Ted Sirota
Ted Sirota
Ted Sirota
b.1969
drums
and Ken Vandermark
Ken Vandermark
Ken Vandermark
b.1964
saxophone
informs his inside-outside approach, lending a forward thinking but historically aware sensibility to this versatile mid-sized ensemble. A New Orleans native, Albert brings the weight of his hometown's history to play in this rousing septet, finding common ground between Big Easy swagger and Windy City muscle.

Joining Bishop and Albert on the brass heavy front line is the veteran performing duo of cornetist Josh Berman and tenor saxophonist Keefe Jackson

Keefe Jackson
Keefe Jackson

saxophone
. Together with Bishop and Albert they form an engaging horn section, unfurling pointillist explorations one minute and rousing Second Line riffs the next. Vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz
Jason Adasiewicz
Jason Adasiewicz

vibraphone
and former New Orleans residents bassist Matthew Golombisky and drummer Quin Kirchner comprise the swinging rhythm section, with Adasiewicz's scintillating accents amplifying the unit's unique tonality.

Pluto Junkyard is their sophomore effort, following their 2006 debut Farragut (Lakefront Digital). The majority of the pieces are written by Bishop or Albert, with one each from Jackson and Kirchner. Eschewing conventional AABA forms and head-solo-head structures, these episodic tunes feature an array of advanced compositional devices. Shifting tempos, fluctuating rhythms and unexpected bridges, turnarounds and codas yield a string of dynamic mood changes. Vibrant bouts of controlled collective improvisation and effusive unaccompanied horn cadenzas materialize repeatedly throughout the album, revealing conceptual parallels between Chicago-based, AACM-oriented free improvisation and New Orleans-styled polyphony.

Extrapolating the advancements of Post-War jazz with an infectious blend of contrapuntal invention and elastic freedom, many of the tunes invoke the seminal efforts of visionaries like Andrew Hill

Andrew Hill
Andrew Hill
1937 - 2007
piano
, Oliver Nelson
Oliver Nelson
Oliver Nelson
1932 - 1975
arranger
and George Russell
George Russell
George Russell
1923 - 2009
piano
. The album's second half maintains this abstract yet accessible approach with a few stylistic detours, including "Future Dog (For Jaki)" which vacillates between collective freedom and funky Afro-Latin grooves, and Albert's introspective post-Katrina meditation "Afterwards." The coruscating power chords that fuel "The Dan Hang" feature Bishop tearing into his rarely played electric guitar, while "Sunny's Bounce" is a joyous, in-the-pocket ode to Sun Ra's early Delmark sides, closing the album on a high note.

Approaching classic New Orleans traditions from a modernist perspective, the Lucky 7's challenge preconceived notions about contemporary brass bands. An excellent offering from the fertile Chicago-New Orleans axis, Pluto Junkyard presents a compelling vision of the future, informed by the past.


Track Listing: #6; Pluto Junkyard; Ash; Cultural Baggage; Future Dog (For Jaki); Jaki's Walk; Afterwards; The Dan Hang; Sunny's Bounce.

Personnel: Jeb Bishop: trombone, guitar (8); Jeff Albert: trombone, bass trombone; Josh Berman: cornet; Keefe Jackson: tenor saxophone; Jason Adasiewicz: vibraphone; Matthew Golombisky: double bass, electric bass (8); Quin Kirchner: drums.

Record Label: Clean Feed Records

Style: Modern Jazz


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