Final Floor marks the last stop of a band that one might say never really was.
Throttle Elevator Music was the name given to a jazz-punk studio cooperative project organized and operating from 2011 through 2017 around saxophonist Kamasi Washington, drummer Mike Hughes (aka "Lumpy") and composer and guitarist Gregory Howe. Howe also founded and serves as producer and engineer for Wide Hive Records, the label that recorded and distributed their music. He notes on the back jacket that "this album represents the last original material from Throttle Elevator Music."
Harnessing the open throttle drive of punk into more complex jazz sounds and visions might sound contradictory. But Final Floor is powered, not hindered, by these contradictions and contrasts. This punk-jazz sound, for example, is both collective and individualistic and can be both obvious and oblique: "Standards Reproached" presents 46 seconds of what sounds like the rhythm section and lead saxophone drag racing each other around in an ever-tightening circle that eventually collapses from nervous exhaustion.
The ensuing "Fast Remourse" continues gnawing on the same type of robotic punk-funk rhythm as twin saxophones Washington and Kasey Knudsen and trumpet (Erik Jekabson) take turns blowing jazz-rock solos over the rhythm section's howling hot metal rage before the track curiously unwinds to a slow stop just like the previous tune.
But much of this Final Floor lays down more spacy jazz. Its opening tune, "Supraliminal Space," opens in a wandering search that eventually settles into an unusual rhythm and melody that keeps revolving like it was in orbit, while Jekabson's trumpet rises and then crosses back and forth like a searchlight across it.
"Rooftop Sunrise," is the Final Floor's last, longest and most beautifully realized song. The juxtaposition of the trumpet's sad song against the machine-like, unrelenting background rhythm seems to signal that, in both joy and suffering, life somehow manages to keep moving on. Jekabson's trumpet has the last word, and the closing view of this Final Floor is a fading echo
Supraliminal Space; Caste Off; Daggerboard; Ice Windows; Recirculate; Final Floor; Heart of Hearing; Return to Form;
Standards Reproached; Fast Remourse; Rooftop Sunrise.