Crazeology is a trio of accomplished musicians who take an unorthodox approach to the bebop repertoire. Trumpeter Peter Evans improvises in a bold, extroverted manner; bassist Steve Wood provides a mobile, flexible, often swinging bass line; and drummer Jon Leland plays a counterpoint consisting largely of accents and counter-rhythms, often out-of-tempo or unmetered. The net effect is sometimes jarring, and certainly different from most jazz music being played today.
This particular Bud Powell tribute is intended to be in the spirit of Powell, challenging conventional notions of music. Accordingly, while most of the performances on this CD swing and respect the chord changes, they still manage to take considerable liberties with bebop convention. The tempos are likely to accelate and decelerate without warning, although the rhythmic flux is clearly intentional. The drums may enter swinging, play a clattering counterpoint, or drop out entirely.
That Crazeology's music succeeds at all is due largely to the interplay between Evans and Wood. Evans displays a lyricism and imagination worthy of Clifford Brown, and if he gets some exposure, his future in jazz could be very bright. His solo on "Wail," building on a swinging riff, is particularly fine. Wood does some sturdy walking, and when the band ventures into free areas, he and Evans interact intelligently. Leland's playing seems to be a bit more standoffish, as if he's commenting on the music rather than participating in it.
While there are adventurous moments here, the two versions of "Parisian Thoroughfare" that close this disc are problematic at best. One of them discards the changes in favor of a bass vamp with shifting accents that cleverly disguise the fact that Wood is playing a I-IV-V-I riff. In other words, "Louie Louie." In the second version, an uncredited pianist noodles the A section of Powell's melody, then cops Powell's intro, then giggles. Both versions are irreverent and jokey, but they have the effect of undermining what went before. Despite it all, Peter Evans is worth a listen.