Hip-hop rhythms, turntable scratches, distorted spoken word voices and eerie synths usually make for some other kind of music. Not our jazz. But Tim Hagans and Bob Belden bring this message around by way of what Miles Davis was doing in the later part of his career. Fusion. Elements from both worlds make the total picture seem pretty darn interesting. Hagans’ tightly muted trumpet trades fours with Belden’s soprano saxophone. Each of them stretches out with quite a bit of extended work, as well.
They’re performing at the 1999 Montreal Jazz Festival. Hagans wears a percussive trumpet mantle; both muted and wide open. Belden counters with vocal-like melodies. Keyboardist Scott Kinsey adds challenging features that steal the show. It’s the nature of a live jazz festival performance: each artist has time for extended solo work. Unlike some festival recordings, this one was made at the Theatre du Gesu, providing the sound guys with an excellent soundscape from which to record. They’ve captured this one well.
In a studio, Hagans would have simply used echo effects. “Killer Instinct” offers something unique. Hagans and Belden take turns playing the echo. In order to achieve this properly, each has to reach up high with unison tones. They’ve revisited Bitches Brew and placed the music at center stage. What was once sneered at as “that eerie, fusion kid stuff” has taken its place in the mainstream alongside acoustic jazz and other easily labeled forms of music. The music is easy to recognize, easy to differentiate, and makes it easy to form an opinion.
Other artists have recreated history verbatim in an attempt to honor our jazz forefathers. Hagans and Belden have created fresh, new scenery to honor one important aspect of jazz’s evolvement. The result is fresh and exciting – coming from several of the more creative minds on today’s jazz scene.
Personnel: Tim Hagans: trumpet; Bob Belden" soprano saxophone; Scott Kinsey" synthesizers; David Dyson: electric bass; Billy Kilson: drums; DJ Kingsize: turntables.