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Le Rex: Escape of the Fire Ants

Glenn Astarita By

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This young charismatic Swiss ensemble surges forward by melding modern sounds with New Orleans-based traditional jazz and hip groove-building pulses and perpetual motion, executed with manifold time signatures and soaring unison choruses. On its fourth album and second for Cuneiform Records, the musicians' sense of purpose transfers into your listening space as you can detect lots of smiles and conviction emanating from the band's memorable hooks, shifting themes and forceful overtones.

Essentially, their seamless integration of trad jazz during several passages is developed into futuristic spins on the roads frequently traversed amid interweaving layers, thrusting progressive jazz soloing and worldly invocations, transferring the listener from Bourbon Street into a customized soundstage. Interspersed with temperate balladry, often rendered with soulful and searching lines, the quartet even embarks on a barrelhouse and gutsy romp on the medium-tempo, bumping and grinding, "Harry Stamper Saves The Day." Here, Andreas Tschopp's ballsy trombone solo is peppered by the band's anchor, tubaist Marc Unternährer.

The undeniable synergy and somewhat rebellious mode of operations conveyed by these young lads add to the entertaining musicality that they bring to the table via knotty and intricately designed compositions. "Elliott's Theme" is built on a circular motif, teeming with numerous contrasts and thematic inventions with a few smoothing out processes by the warm and sonorous horns. The quartet's momentum spirals into a popping opus, spotted with curvy and geometric stylizations.

Other tracks feature funk-driven advancements, symmetrical storylines and lots of counterpoint, often accelerated or softened by the frontline's hard-charging solos atop Unternährer's pumping low-end support and contrapuntal interactions. Indeed, this is a production that offers elevated musicianship, charm and wit, broadened by an entertainment factor that should appeal to mainstream and progressive jazz aficionados alike.

Track Listing: Escape of the Fire Ants; Alimentation Générale; Smoking Flowers; One Must Imagine Sisyphus Happy; Harry Stamper Saves The Day; Elliott's Theme; Bädumeh Landing; The Funding; Strong Woods; Glow; Ballad For An Optimist; Der Knochige Dürre.

Personnel: Benedikt Reising: alto sax; Marc Stucki: tenor sax; Andreas Tschopp: trombone; Marc Unternährer: tuba; Rico Baumann: drums.

Title: Escape of the Fire Ants | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Cuneiform Records

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