181

Ben Allison & Medicine Wheel: Buzz

By

Sign in to view read count
Despite its moderate tempo, "Respiration," the opening track on Buzz, sets an insistent tone that drives the album’s first three tracks. Bassist Ben Allison penned all three charts, which feature tight, energetic ensemble playing by the six-piece band as well as plenty of open space for improvisation, including a textured piano solo by Frank Kimbrough on "Respiration" and a blistering tenor solo by either Michael Blake or Ted Nash (the promo copy of the disc does not specify) on "Buzz." The third track, "Green Al," is an upbeat bluesy tenor feature that has the sort of undeniable appeal of which standards are made. Michael Sarin provides much of the energy on these numbers with his varied, driving drumming, but a clear kinetic sound emanates from each member of the band.

The next track, "Mauritania," was composed by Blake and features great flute work by Nash, as well as a strong solo by trombonist Clark Gayton (whose work adds a depth to the low end at various points throughout recording). The piece's slow groove seems to demarcate a change in the album’s energy level, however.

Though Andrew Hill's "Erato" brings Allison's bass playing to the fore and the individual parts are still well-performed, the driving force that energized the album's early numbers seems to seep away a bit. Allison's "R&B Fantasy" struggles against the trend with mixed results over its better than seven-minute length. Things grind to a near halt, however, on the album’s last number, a ponderous cover of the Beatles' "Across the Universe" (an admittedly ponderous song to begin with). It's tempting to say the final track is a Buzz killer, but the early tracks are definitely worth a spin. Buzz is uneven, but at its best, it's very, very good.


Track Listing: Respiration; Buzz; Green Al; Mauritania; Erato; R&B Fantasy; Across the Universe.

Personnel: Ben Allison- bass; Michael Blake- tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Ted Nash- tenor saxophone, flute; Clark Gayton- trombone, bass trombone; Frank Kimbrough- piano; Michael Sarin- drums.

Title: Buzz | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Palmetto Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read No Answer CD/LP/Track Review No Answer
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Agrima CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Bright Yellow with Bass CD/LP/Track Review Bright Yellow with Bass
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 18, 2017
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 "Inside The Moment" CD/LP/Track Review Inside The Moment
by James Nadal
Published: June 21, 2017
Read "The Duke Box 2" CD/LP/Track Review The Duke Box 2
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 14, 2016
Read "Jazzin' Around Christmas" CD/LP/Track Review Jazzin' Around Christmas
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 8, 2016
Read "Behind The Mist" CD/LP/Track Review Behind The Mist
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: March 30, 2017
Read "Open Book" CD/LP/Track Review Open Book
by Doug Collette
Published: September 9, 2017
Read "Tangofied III" CD/LP/Track Review Tangofied III
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 13, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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