Multi-instrumentalist Barry Romberg brings his band of fellow adventurers, Random Access, on another musical journey that is filled with generous dollops of invention, surprise and just plain old darn good music. Romberg retains his trademark sense of humor, a trait that washes into his fellow cohorts. The underlining feature, however, is the way in which they can spin ideas into compelling tales of adventure on was, shall, why, because
Romberg uses a sextet for "Suite for the Wolfman," a collection of seven movements that is completely improvised. Given that it runs for 40 minutes and never lacks for attention says something for the improvisatory strengths of this group.
The suite starts off with the dramatic "Becoming," an intense stream evoked by violinist Hugh Marsh
, with Romberg adding cymbal flourishes. The pulse is not quite the harbinger of what is to come in terms of style and tempo; to do so would be pedestrian. As Random Access has shown on its previous recordings, it is anything but.
The continuum of the suite finds saxophonist Kirk MacDonald
kicking in the funk over the Geoff Young's percolating guitar and Richard Rabbit Brown
's bass. Trumpeter Kevin Turcotte adds to the dynamism, as he shapes his solos with remarkable intuition. The understanding between the players is telepathic, making for seamless progression as they open the road to swing, free form, dreamy ballad pastures and bop, making for a capacious and striking tapestry.
The ethereal opening of "I Was a Celestial Body in a Contents Sale" is constructed on free-flowing lines that convolute and billow before they find semblance. The seamless flow of the ensemble has a classical air with a resplendent sheen before the music explodes. Turcotte drives the tempo, wailing and hitting the high notes, only to find that the rest of the band gets into the calm after the storm he has churned. But nothing is at it seems and nothing is as it may be; the turns and twists keep coming.
Random Access not only gives the music an enviable aesthetic, it also possesses the distinctive ability to intrigue and stimulate, making was, shall, why, because an engaging pleasure.
Personnel: Barry Romberg: drums, electronic percussion, keys; Geoff Young: guitars; Rich Brown: bass; Hugh Marsh: violin; David Occhipinti: guitars; Kevin Turcotte: trumpet; Jason Logue: trumpet; Brian O'Kane: trumpet; Kirk MacDonald: tenor and soprano saxophones; Kelly Jefferson: tenor and soprano saxophones, clarinet; John Johnson: alto saxophone, clarinet; Peter Lutek: baritone saxophone, bassoon; William Carn: trombone; Andrew Jones: trombone; Gord Meyers: bass trombone; Blair Mackay: percussion.