The liner note explanation of the title of Big Neighborhood's second CD release, penned by the group's guitarist/leader, David White, sounds sort of loopy and New Age weird. White claims that "in some circles 11:11 is a wake-up code as seen on digital clocks designed to reach the subconscious mind and trigger genetically encoded memories showing us that we are higher spirits...."
Claptrap. Go hug a crystal. That's my take on it. But when you spend an evening with the modern-leaning two disc set by this original-sounding Seattle-based quartet, then hit the sack early and wake up a couple of hours later, under the influence of either prostate problems or providence, and see 11:11 glowing on the alarm clock, it makes you stop and wonder.
In my review of Big Neighborhood's first disc, Neighbors (Origin Records, '05), I said the group sounded like a band that Steely Dan might have hired as a studio musicians. Revisiting that disc in conjunction with an immersion with 11:11 says that I might have gotten it wrong. By way of comparison, Big Neighborhood's sound seems to walk streets similar to those frequented by Chick Corea's Elektric Band, with a looser and more spontaneous swagger in its step.
This is a cohesive blend of glowing guitar (with a bit of Bill Frisell folksiness creeping in on occasion) with an ebullient, usually odd-meter bass/drum rhythm team and a succinct alto sax (weaving in and out of the mix; not standing out in front of it), working a precision versus freedom groove about as skillfully and engagingly as it can be done. The influences are variedcalypso, modern jazz, 20th Century classical, reggae, '70s rockall mixed together by Big Neighborhood into a fresh, forward-leaning sonic brew.
CD1: Anthem for Jolyon Wagg; The Lake; 11:11; Mad Herod's Tea Party. CD2: Sometimes, Part
I; Sometimes, Part II; Lena Sofia; The rise and Fall of the Deceivers; Pulp, Part I; Pulp, Part II.
Chris Fagan: alto saxophone; David White: gutar, guitar synthesizer; Doug Miller: bass; Phi