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

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
Read more articles
At Home

At Home

Palmetto Records
2008

buy
At Home

At Home

Palmetto Records
2007

buy
 

Redemption

Intuition
2000

buy
 

Redemption

Intuition Records
1999

buy

Related Articles

Read New Year Album Reviews
New Year
By Dan Bilawsky
July 17, 2019
Read Confluence Album Reviews
Confluence
By Karl Ackermann
July 17, 2019
Read Shafted Album Reviews
Shafted
By Edward Blanco
July 17, 2019
Read Live at the Bird’s Eye Jazz Club Album Reviews
Live at the Bird’s Eye Jazz Club
By Don Phipps
July 17, 2019
Read Confluence Album Reviews
Confluence
By Dan McClenaghan
July 16, 2019
Read Movimenti Album Reviews
Movimenti
By Geno Thackara
July 16, 2019
Read A New Home Album Reviews
A New Home
By Mark Corroto
July 16, 2019