I am evermore bummed that this is an EP instead of a full-length album. The Sardonics certainly know how to have fun while churning out high-quality jazz. The band formed in Sacramento, CA in the Fall of ’99, the members having worked together in several other area outfits. They’re one of the few jazz bands in town that make some joyful noise beyond the usual pop/hotel jazz. This disc blends soul, blues, funk and serious post-bop attitude with liberal sprinklings of wit and some delightful surprises.
All of the players are notably skilled and work together commendably. When tenor man Aaron Thurman isn’t bopping firmly in the pocket, he pokes well-intentioned fun at our expectations of saxophonists. Guitarist Ross Hammond uses a wealth of timbres to paint his soundscapes: a little bluesiness here, a little Wes tone there, a wee splat of avant. Bassist Aaron Weiss’ vamps and walking lines are tight and lively inside and out. He’s the oil that lubes the eight-cylinder engine of drummer Todd Temby (leader of local funk favorites Budj Beatkus). The four original tunes here, created by group effort, could hold their own against most anything on today’s mainstream jazz market. I'm told that the band recently added a rendition of John Coltrane's Mr. P.C> to newer editions of the EP, something I would love to hear them tackle.
To sum up, The Sardonics are one of the best up-and-coming bands I’ve heard this year, bar none. I steadfastly recommend this disc and look forward to more delights from them in the future.
(For more information about The Sardonics and this disc, please contact the band at Sardonic4tet@madmail.com.)
Track Listing: Scared Stiff; Ruby vs. Planet of the Apes; Nana
Personnel: Aaron Thurman, tenor sax; Ross Hammond, guitar; Aaron Weiss, bass; Todd Temby, drums.