Ohio expatriates David Slusser and Ralph Carney pay tribute to their rust belt beginnings on the Akron-inspired Rubber City
. Slusser recorded these live quartet performances in the San Francisco Bay Area, with guests dropping in to add flavorful touches. Slusser, Carney, and drummer Chris Ackerman all barely escaped Ohio without gross disfigurements from industrial accidents to make music on the West Coast. Rounding out Slusser’s quartet is bassist Bill Fairbanks, who is not from Ohio, but once received a death-threat telegram from Youngstown.
Slusser has worked in film and music editing with the likes of Lucasfilm, David Lynch, and Francis Coppola. His previous recording Delight At The End Of The Tunnel (Tzadik), is a sound sculpture soundtrack. Here Slusser and Carney play fashionably quirky theatre music. For Carney, a veteran of Tom Waits’ bands, this is familiar territory. The disc opens with “Twilight Erie” a Charles Mingus meets the hard-boiled detective soundtrack blues piece. Slusser lets you know you are in for highly stylized music. Their take on the traditional “Beautiful Ohio” (don’t worry if you aren’t from Ohio, you’ve never heard it) is straight out of the John Kirby/Raymond Scott cartoon-music-is-serious-music school with its time and style changes to hunt wabbits with. The band (and listener) is interested in a good time here. While honoring Steve Lacy with “Steve’s Shorts (Lacy Under Things)” the musicians take time ala ICP Orchestra to bark like dogs. Splatter Trio guitarist Myles Boisen joins the quartet for “Ornette-thology.” Together they shape a convincing brand of harmolodics with an impressive saxophone run by Slusser. The highlight of the disc may be their take on The Byrds “Eight Miles High.” Slusser bridges the rock classic with the music of John Coltrane, quoting from “India” as he burns up his soprano saxophone.