254

Slow Poke: At Home

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Slow Poke: At Home 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 Saluting Sgt. Pepper CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Thick as Thieves CD/LP/Track Review Thick as Thieves
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Dream Within A Dream CD/LP/Track Review Dream Within A Dream
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Live At The High Noon CD/LP/Track Review Live At The High Noon
by Doug Collette
Published: June 22, 2017
Read As It Should Be: Ballads 2 CD/LP/Track Review As It Should Be: Ballads 2
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 21, 2017
Read Karoujite CD/LP/Track Review Karoujite
by John Eyles
Published: June 21, 2017
Read "Goodbye Red Rose (2008/9)" CD/LP/Track Review Goodbye Red Rose (2008/9)
by John Eyles
Published: October 16, 2016
Read "The Behemoth" CD/LP/Track Review The Behemoth
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 9, 2017
Read "King Of Xhosa" CD/LP/Track Review King Of Xhosa
by James Nadal
Published: January 23, 2017
Read "Miniatures" CD/LP/Track Review Miniatures
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 20, 2016
Read "The Big Wig" CD/LP/Track Review The Big Wig
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 24, 2017
Read "Pale White Shout" CD/LP/Track Review Pale White Shout
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 10, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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