Vibes player and bandleader Dillon explains the concept behind his genre-mashing Go-Go Jungle ensemble this way: "I wanted to write some blues heads like Milt Jackson might have written had he grown up listening to Led Zeppelin, and play them over a go-go groove.
Right from the opening "Go-Go's Theme you can tell that Dillon is hell bent on merging the improvisational, jazz vibraphone tradition with the aggressive attack of his personal skull-crushing, hard rock favorites such as the Bad Brains and the Henry Rollins Band.
("Go-go is a percussion- and call-and-response-heavy style of funk popularized in East Coast clubs by bands such as E.U. and TroubleFunk, of which "Da Butt from the Spike Lee joint School Daze was probably the commercial pinnacle.)
Dillon lured most of his longest-standing musical co-conspirators into this Go-Go Jungle debut, including tenor saxophonist Mark Southerland, bassists Ron Johnson and J.J. "Jungle Richards, and the expertly-named Go-Go Ray Pollard on drums. The result is genuinely democratic jazz-rock fusion that roars with the power of jazz and rock in equal parts.
Tenor sax and vibes lead the somewhat twisted bop melody of "Go-Go's Theme, even as the bass and drum stomp this nimble rhythm down into funk that almost instantaneously erupts into a timbales/percussion beat-down rendered in genuine Go-Go style. It's also expertly produced: Dillon's vibes roll out the melody in one speaker, Southerland honks out King Curtis gutbucket tenor in the other, while bass and drum, placed dead center, roll through and bust up the joint.
The rhythm section churns even more frantic and brutal through "Lunatic Express, hauling its weighty ass like a runaway freight train while Dillon's vibes radiate a harsh, buzzing psychedelic edge. An oddly-shaped, quicksilver melody that settles into a simmering Latin and rock and funk and jazz groove behind soloists who play with pronounced senses of adventure and humor (especially Dillon), "Lopsided Melon Ball sounds like Frank Zappa in more than just its title. Placed in between, this cover of Aaron Neville's New Orleans lament "Hercules sparkles like a compact crystal that sounds completely out of place in the midst of such madness. So, conceptually, it fits.
To close, Dillon honors a kindred jazz bad-ass spirit, saxophonist and composer Eddie Harris, with the angled blue phrasing and tone of his solo, and the finger-popping jaunty melody, for the electrifying "Harris Country.
Track Listing: GoGos Theme; Brocs Last Stand; The Blame Game; Robbing the Bank; Your Mother Was My Teacher; The Voyeur; Lunatic Express; Hercules; Lopsided Mellon Ball; Stupid Americans; Bad Man; Harris County.
Personnel: GoGo Ray: drums; J. J. Jungle Richards: bass, vocals; Ron Johnson: bass; Mike Dillon: vibraphone, tabla, percussion; Mark Southerland: saxophone, eight-track, circuit-bent madness.
Year Released: 2007
| Record Label: Hyena Records
| Style: Fringes of Jazz