254

Slow Poke: At Home

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Slow Poke was a unique band, even among the fertile late nineties Downtown (New York) scene. Gradually warming to neo-classical formalism, various Downtown line-ups began incorporating traditional elements into their compositions, progressively moving beyond their No Wave roots by embracing a more traditional aesthetic. Blending accessible tunefulness with adventurous improvisation, ensembles like Ballin' The Jack, The Jazz Passengers and Sex Mob all embraced various aspects of the mainstream, but none with as much melodic assuredness as Slow Poke.

Slow Poke's collective resume features an A-list of cutting edge nineties-era talent; bassist Ben Allison, guitarist Bill Frisell, The Lounge Lizards, Sex Mob, singer Tom Waits and saxophonist/composer John Zorn have all utilized the services of the members of this quartet.

Saxophonist Michael Blake, slide guitarist David Tronzo, bassist Tony Scherr and drummer Kenny Wollesen recorded At Home at Scherr's house in 1998, self-releasing it two years before their official label debut, Redemption (Intuition, 2000). A mix of bluesy atmospherics and soulful reflection, this off the cuff meeting of friends embodies the camaraderie of a freewheeling, casual jam session with a dedicated focus on melodic development.

Slowing down the tempos of pop tunes and re-harmonizing their chord changes for added resonance, the quartet takes a languorous stride through Eddie Harris' "Listen Hear," Neil Young's "Harvest" and Nashville-based alt.country band Lambchop's "The Saturday Option" with delicate poise. Blake's breathy tenor and Tronzo's lithe electric slide reveal euphonious melodies and sumptuous harmonies while Scherr and Wollesen ply relaxed, in-the-pocket rhythms with carefree ease.

With its ebullient polyrhythms peppered with delectable melodious kernels and kaleidoscopic counterpoint, Blake's highlife-influenced "Afro Blake" introduces another side of the band. Duke Ellington's "Rockin' In Rhythm" is given a punchy funk twist while "Make Out Machine" is a buoyant, celebratory excursion.

Rich with dusky soul and bluesy slow burn, Slow Poke trades flashy virtuosity for melodic maturity and lyrical finesse. Reissued by Palmetto Records, At Home is a gorgeous recording devoid of pretension, and a perfect opportunity to hear four masters unwind as they explore the subtlety of well crafted tunes.


Track Listing: Listen Hear; Afro Blake; Harvest; Rockin' In Rhythm; Dry Socket; Make Out Machine; The Saturday Option.

Personnel: Michael Blake: tenor saxophone, toy keyboard; David Tronzo: slide guitar and baritone guitar; Tony Scherr: electric and acoustic bass, guitar; Kenny Wollesen: drums and percussion.

Title: At Home | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Palmetto Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Rev CD/LP/Track Review Rev
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1 CD/LP/Track Review The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1
by Jim Olin
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren CD/LP/Track Review The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Any Other Way CD/LP/Track Review Any Other Way
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 16, 2017
Read "Crossing" CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Provenance" CD/LP/Track Review Provenance
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 4, 2017
Read "88" CD/LP/Track Review 88
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 24, 2016
Read "Riser" CD/LP/Track Review Riser
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 16, 2017
Read "Duende Libre" CD/LP/Track Review Duende Libre
by James Nadal
Published: May 6, 2017
Read "My Tongue Crumbles After" CD/LP/Track Review My Tongue Crumbles After
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 1, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.