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Album Review

Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord: Harder On The Outside


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Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord: Harder On The Outside
Sometimes a single track can satisfy an album's worth of listening. You get that feeling with "People be Talking," the first song on Jon Lundbom's ninth release with his band Big Five Chord. His quintet packs everything into this kitchen sink composition. The piece is jazz-and-not-jazz, like Miles Davis affected in his transitional years between his second great quintet to jazz/rock fusion. But then again, it's not that at all. The propulsive 6/4 groove leaks an Afro-Cuban feel, and saxophonist Bryan Murray plays the role of a kung fu drunken master, bobbing and weaving with intoxicated honks and squeals that appear unbalanced, yet strike with a precise authority. Lundbom's guitar enters to clear the debris left by Murray, with rapid spitfire notes that leave echoed traces as he slows the speeding track to a halt. The song doesn't so much end as it just consumes itself.

Oh yeah, my music player was stuck on repeat. In some way, that is perfectly okay.

Venture further and we get six more tracks, seven if you count the alternate version of "Basic Bitches" included on the CD. Besides the cover of Frank Littig's 1924 bluegrass "Fussing Blues," the remaining tracks are live renditions of music compiled by Murray and Lundbom for a project Beats by Balto, Vol. 1 (Chant Records, 2019). The project samples Big Five Chord albums and other Hot Cup recordings mixed with sampled beats and new Lundbom compositions. All of which is acted upon by and passed between the two, Lundbom in Austin and Murray in NYC. With Harder On The Outside, the pair record the same music together with bassist Moppa Elliott (Mostly Other People Do The Killing), saxophonist Justin Wood, and drummer Dan Monaghan.

Please do venture further. Like his stellar Hot Cup Records offerings, the four disc 2016:EPs (2016), Jeremiah (2015), and .:liverevil:. (2013), Lundbom delivers cogent rock and irresistible jazz music. "Booberonic" exorcises a chest thumping electric boogaloo groove from Elliott and Monaghan while Murray and Wood volley notes back and forth before Lundbom settles the affair with some rip, tear, crunchy guitar. "Cereal" eases off the gas pedal with a chill out groove, yet maintains its momentum with quietly busy guitar work and a saxophone duet. "Fussing Blues" is a hot mess of music, channeling Ornette Coleman/Dewey Redman through Albert Ayler's lens while slamming the blues.

Sometimes a track can define an entire recording, and without bragging Lundbom tells us that each composition here can be the focal point of your attention.

Track Listing

People be Talking; Basic Bitches; Prednisone; Booberonic; Cereal; Fussing Blues (Littig); Three Plus; Basic Bitches (alt.).


Jon Lundbom: guitar; Justin Wood: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Bryan Murray: tenor saxophone, alto saxophone; Moppa Elliott: bass; Dan Monaghan: drums.

Album information

Title: Harder On The Outside | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Hot Cup Records

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