Once jazz migrated from New Orleans and the Deep South to Chicago and New York, a favorite put-down for those making music that wasn't urban, cool or modern was to call the musicians "country." It was as if all things of jazz consequence outside of urban centers was required to be imported from said cities.
Of late, jazz artist have latched onto the 'slow food,' buy-local movement, taking ingredients found in the country to build upon this thing called jazz. Petr Cancura is one such artist. The saxophonist/banjoist's Down Home is three parts roots music, two parts jazz, one part blues, mixed on a country porch, and, pardon the cliché, it cooks.
Inspired by a trip from Brooklyn to Mississippi, Cancura wrote jazz tracks built from the Deep South. Doubling on banjo and musicbox, the saxophonist takes jazz back to a rural place. The banjo opens the affair with "Those Were The Times," a slow, smoky tune draped in Brian Drye's trombone and Kirk Knuffke's untucked cornet. Like the Americana work of Bill Frisell, there is an authenticity to Cancura's vision. His "Farmer Tune" features the rat-tat-tat of Richie Barshay's drums; the music is a picnic of a dance track. The same can be said for "My Country," with its simple logic. Bassist Garth Stevenson makes his instrument sound like a washtub bass, and the band spins their partners round and round.
To call this music country is a compliment. Just like you could call Rahsaan Roland Kirk or Ornette Coleman country, Cancura brings the unembellished parade music of "We Ain't Gonna Stop Now!" into the party. He includes a baby's music box, and rural blues with the swinging banjo heard on "Dry Country." The music is a roots party. Cancura's saxophone duet with Chris Bartos on "Partners in Crime" is hearty, filling and robust. Knuffke's plaintive sound rounds the track into a family affair.
The disc is best summed up by Cancura's anthem, "Shine On," an encouraging blues that lingers long after the track ends. It's as if the windows have been thrown open to allow a deep breath of music to flow through the jazz house.
Those Were The Times; Farmer Tune; Musicbox; Anabelle’s Waltz; My Country;
Ain’t Gonna Stop Now; Dry Country; Partners In Crime; Blind Willie; Shine On; Going
Lay Me Down.