In the jazz world, there is something in the air. Barely detectable, but definitely something in the air these days. A whiff of change (or maybe the decay of traditions decomposing). It can be heard in the music the young lions (YL) are playing. These YLs are more like the Lee Morgan/Wayne Shorter YLs of the 1960s than the Marsalis generation of the 1980s. They intend to grab jazz by the lapel and shake it with extreme prejudice.
A prime example of the new YLs is the band Big Five Chord, the creation of guitarist Jon Lundbom. Formed in 2003, the band's latest disc Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord Accomplish Jazz follows Big Five Chord (Lundbom, 2005) and All the Pretty Ponies(Lundbom, 2004). Band members Moppa Elliott (bass) and Jon Irabagon (alto saxophone) are both from the band Mostly Other People Do The Killing (MOPDTK), with tenor saxophonist Bryan Murray and drummer Danny Fischer completing the line-up. With them, Lundbom creates music that is neither fusion, jazz core, nor rock. It is pure jazz with rock attitude.
From the opening "Truncheon," Lundbom's writing presents a skewed perspective and a dissonant swing that pieces together Ornette Coleman's harmolodics and an incessant pulse. Between Lundbom's commentary of notes and the furious torrent of sound that spills from Irabagon's saxophone, a perfect storm develops.
"Phoenetics" begins to decay from the quintet's placid opening lines. Fischer steps away from his drum kit and Lundbom is left to float above Elliott's strummed pulse. The music has a lingering Americana feel that continues in the folksy "The Christian Life (Louvin/Louvin)," which sounds more like Elvis Costello playing country music than Bill Frisell. Murray's stuttering tenor lines open up into cowboy love song vocalizations.
The final two tracks return to a more aggressive stance. "Tick-Dog" opens with Lundbom walking notes as he meddles with the tuning of strings. The band follows this disjointed wandering in 12/8 altered time, making the odd quite remarkable. "Baluba, Baluba" is a groove master of funk and power horns that swings for the fences, and succeeds.
Yes, Big Five Chord do accomplish jazz; a very new jazz.
Track Listing: Truncheon; Phoenetics; The Christian Life (Louvin/Louvin); Tick-Dog; Baluba, Baluba.
Personnel: Jon Lundbom: guitar; Jon Irabagon: alto saxophone; Byran Murray: tenor saxophone; Matthew "Moppa" Elliott: bass; Danny Fischer: drums.