76

The Rare Bird Rhumba Ranch: Bull Feathers

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
The Rare Bird Rhumba Ranch: Bull Feathers Blending Tex-Mex with merengue, rhumba with Afro-Cuban influences, all with a keen sense of the absurd, the Rare Bird Rhumba Ranch is a schtick band that, while clearly limited in its appeal, has a certain zest, an infectious panache that makes it an engaging listen. And while there is a certain cerebral nature to their music, Bull Feathers is equally filled with danceable rhythms that would make them an entertaining band to experience live. But there is a cost; more about that later.

With an unusual instrumental lineup that combines a one-of-a-kind Latin drum kit with saxophones, accordion and bass; the Rare Bird Rhumba Ranch has a distinctive sound that is at once ethnically reverential and keenly exploratory. Percussionist/leader Greg Stare (Chico Loco) has worked in a variety of contexts, but through it all he demonstrates a firm understanding of groove; as sole composer for the band, he blends an Afro-Cuban musical sensibility with kitschy lyrics. Bassist Taylor Bergren-Chrisman (Chico Bueno), also established in the Eastern European Judaica band Golem, works well with Stare, maintaining a strong pulse throughout.

That leaves saxophonist Michael Attias (Chico Malo), who has worked with artists as diverse as Ray Santos and Anthony Braxton, and accordionist Josh Camp (Chico Long and Pompous), who has also worked in a broad range of styles, to bring the harmonic and melodic content to the group. Attias’ experience in free music brings an angular edge to the music; even when the group is keeping things danceable and reasonably accessible, as on “¡Chirp!,” there is an abstruse nature that keeps things slightly off-kilter. “Minimalist Merengue” shifts between a traditional merengue and more intense passages where seemingly stream-of-consciousness lyrics ebb and flow.

And what of the cost, previously mentioned? The danger of this kind of record is that it is altogether too considered for its own good. While the dance rhythms are sure to keep some of the audience happy, and its more outwardly experimental nature will appeal to a more exploratory audience, there is too much intention and little that sounds or feels spontaneous and natural. Schtick is, after all, still schtick; and that means that the work has an inherently limited shelf-life.

The project may succeed, for a time, on its own merits, but has little potential for longevity as the concept ultimately wears thin. Bull Feathers has a certain appeal, but will succeed best as a one-off project and even then may not bear repeated listens.

Visit The Rare Bird Rhumba Ranch on the web.


Track Listing: It's a Bird; Songs to be Sung; Pop Was Born in Texas; Minimalist Merengue; Grand Street Diner; Bull Feathers;

Personnel: Greg Stare (conga kit, lead vocals), Michael Attias (alto and baritone saxophones, recorder, vocals), Joshua Camp (accordion, vocals), Taylor Bergren-Chrisman (bass, vocals), Allyssa Lamb (vocals), Emily Hurst (vocals)

Year Released: 2004 | Style: Latin/World


Shop

More Articles

Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read On Hollywood Boulevard CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Desire & Freedom CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Motorman's Son CD/LP/Track Review The Motorman's Son
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "Factory Girl" CD/LP/Track Review Factory Girl
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 22, 2016
Read "Never Group" CD/LP/Track Review Never Group
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 21, 2016
Read "Pale White Shout" CD/LP/Track Review Pale White Shout
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 10, 2016
Read "Cada Fuego Es El Primero" CD/LP/Track Review Cada Fuego Es El Primero
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 20, 2016
Read "A Multitude of Angels" CD/LP/Track Review A Multitude of Angels
by Geno Thackara
Published: December 2, 2016
Read "Parodies: Jazz Music for Violin and Octet" CD/LP/Track Review Parodies: Jazz Music for Violin and Octet
by Eyal Hareuveni
Published: March 21, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!