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San Francisco Bay Area bassist Trevor Dunn gets around. Dunn has worked with a vast array of such diverse artists as the Kronos Quartet, Tom Waits, Ben Goldberg, Wayne Horvitz, Mike Patton and Buzz Osbourne of the the slash and burn rock band, The Melvins. Dunn is also a co-founder of the avant-rock band Mr. Bungle. As one might detect from his broad resume, Dunn is equally at home playing Rock, Free Jazz or disciplined Chamber-esque charts. Here, with his “Trio Convulsant” Dunn provides a glimpse or two of his diverse musical talents which includes pieces that perhaps disclose his sophisticated mindset towards compositional approach. Along with the electrifying session guitarist Adam Levy and New York City Downtown Scene Drummer Kenny Wolleson, “Debutantes & Centipedes” is unconventional yet for the most part is gregarious, arousing and slightly tempestuous.
“Perfumed With Crime” melds jazz-swing with loud grunge type guitar chords. Eventually matters settle down as Dunn and Levy become almost sheepishly conversational through their respective instruments. Dunn’s acoustic bass has a deep resonant wooden sound and there’s no doubt about his technical gifts. Moments of free improvisation, swing and death metal intermingle on the explosive “An Attempt At Jealousy” yet the brief moments of bombast eventually give way to serious dialogue. Kenny Wolleson covers the full spectrum of drumming and proves why he is such an in demand session musician within the “new” jazz scene. On “Ann-Margret” The boys partake in a manic, hard-core free-style romp. Adam Levy twists his guitar into knots aided and abetted by distortion-fuzz-wah-wah techniques and implementations. Again, as in most of these tracks the themes resurface in various forms and at times the Trio re-work these motifs into call and response settings and pursue dialogue which is insightful and quite interactive. “Premonitions” commences with an intentionally slow yet effective drag beat. Dunn continues to be inventive with proficient and skillful bass maneuvers. More dynamics from Levy and Dunn coalesce into interludes that may suggest mystical or spiritual reckoning. These fellows are definitely on to something here. “Echidna” features modern jazz motifs as Dunn shows amazing dexterity with more fleet fingered bass work. Levy shreds his guitar to bits with fast single note runs and “nasty” hard-edged chord progressions. The proceedings wind down as the boys take a well-deserved break via a slow ballad titled, “Aromatherapy”.
Comparisons? A difficult proposition for sure. “Debutantes & Centipedes” is sure to delight advocates of the New York City Downtown and San Francisco Bay Area scenes where “new” music is at the forefront defying stereotypes and classifications. Trio-Convulsant blend free and mainstream jazz, sub culture grunge rock or at times heavy metal as the overabundance of innovative ideas and impeccable musicianship makes this alliance a triumphant success. **** ½
Trevor Dunn; Bass: Adam Levy; Guitar: Kenny Wolleson; Drums
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.