Chris Jentsch is a guitarist who, from the evidence of this recording, enjoys splashing around in the wide pool of music between jazz and rock. His work here goes all the way from grooving hardcore jazz to ambient nature sounds with a lot of fun things going on in between those two poles.
The title track starts out on a folkish acoustic guitar riff joined to Matt Renzi's climbing tenor sax, establishing an overall style of jazz improvisation married to fluid rock rhythms. "Are You Bye?" is a pure jazz tune, Jentsch and Renzi sliding all over a loose shuffle rhythm laid down by Jim Whitney and John Mettam. Renzi swings easily here and Jentsch solos with tight, reverberating notes like Bill Frisell. "Outside Line" has swirling overdubbed guitars and low pitched tenor leading into a short bass solo. Then the piece shifts into overdriven psychedelic guitar cranking by the leader that sounds like a cross between Larry Coryell and Jerry Garcia.
"Old Folks Song" is a gentle mix of acoustic and electric guitars and flute that resembles a spacey 60's folk song while "Meeting At Surratt's" sounds like a processional march from an Ennio Morricone spaghetti western soundtrack with Jentsch's overdubbed guitars buzzing around Renzi's precise lead tenor and a reggae beat added in the middle. "Radio 666" is heavy jazz-rock with the distorted guitar feel of early King Crimson and "Radio Silence" sounds like 70's prog rock with a stately beat and Renzi's saxophone drifting over a rhythm that has a hint of "Whiter Shade Of Pale" about it.
"Old Folks Postlude" is the "your mileage may vary" track, seven and a half minutes of bugs chirping that Jentsch says was inspired by listening to Brian Eno. "Cycle Of Life" starts out with random rattles and peeps too but here some clarinet and sustained guitar notes bubble out and the piece eventually resolves into a loose, floating tango. The frisky "Follow That Cab" ends the CD nodding to Ornette Coleman as Jentsch and Renzi jog furiously over a dancing, splashy rhythmic groove before launching into individual honking and screaming solos.
Jentsch and Renzi play off each other very well in the ensemble bits and Whitney and Mettam are fine supporting and really excel when they get a bit of space like Mettam's rolling and crashing on "Follow That Cab" and "Outside Line."
There's also an accompanying DVD in this package. I didn't have the equipment to access the alternate takes and remixes listed on the back cover but I did watch a couple of slide show music videos for "Cab" and "666" and a video of the recording session that includes three of the CD tracks plus one new track "summer grasses," a pastoral combination of quiet flute, guitar that goes from placid to screaming and simmering percussion. The whole thing shows Chris Jentsch and his band making excellent music as inventive and varied as any of the big name guitar players around today.
CD: Fractured Pop; Radio Silence; Are You Bye?; Outside Line; Old Folks Song;
Old Folks Postlude; Route 666; Meeting At Surratt's; Imagining the Mirror; Cycle
Of Life; Follow That Cab.
DVD: Fractured Pop; summer grasses, all that remains of soldiers' dreams;
Outside Line; Are You Bye?
Chris Jentsch: guitars, compositions; Matt Renzi: tenor saxophone, clarinet; alto
flute; Jim Whitney: double bass; John Mettam: drums.
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