I generally equate jazz/fusion with the paintings of Andy Warhol. Although interesting and often groundbreaking, they rarely require closer inspection. Visiting the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh requires a mere walkthrough to really see everything. The electric years of Miles weren’t recorded live on a lark. His sonically loud live appearance masked somewhat shallow waters. I’m not saying that I don’t love that music, it’s just that it really can only be consumed in one dimension. As we saw from the 1970s and 80s, fusion in the hands of lesser musicians can be wretched. Fusion, like free jazz requires talented disciplined musicians in complete control of their instruments.
Trumpeter Tim Hagans musical excellence is beyond dispute. He has played and recorded with Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, Dexter Gordon, Joe Lovano, and Maria Schneider. His Blue note albums include Hubsongs (1997), a burning bop tribute to Freddie Hubbard, and Audible Architecture (1994), a mostly trumpet/bass/drums inventive affair. His passion for the music of his youth, rock, is evident in this disc and the studio released Animation.Imagination (1999). Hagans and producer/saxophonist take the mostly studio created music to a live setting, the 1999 Montreal Jazz Festival. What tends to come off with ease in the studio often makes for tricky and troubling live performances. Many wonder why they should attend a rapper’s concert when all the music is canned and the performers merely acting upon cues?
With that dilemma in mind, the quintet plus DJ Kingsize set out to prove the common wisdom wrong and for the most part they do. The title track resurrects not Miles but Weather Report, with a Zawinul synth matched with a jungle beat. They get to Miles on “Hud Doyle” with it’s skittering Miles Tutu-horn and Belden pacing the affair ala Dave Liebman. Hagan who maintains his love of Grand Funk and Led Zeppelin brings the funk and the rock. The world of DJ’s and programmed drums tends to wear thin in spots. I wondered where killer drummer Billy Kilson was. Although featured prominently on several tracks, his remarkable talents seemed cloaked by all the technology.
An enjoyable record that I suggest you play loud.
Personnel: Tim Hagans: trumpet; Bob Belden" soprano saxophone; Scott Kinsey" synthesizers; David Dyson: electric bass; Billy Kilson: drums; DJ Kingsize: turntables.