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Digital Primitives: Hum Crackle & Pop

Jeff Stockton By

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Digital Primitives: Hum Crackle & Pop Cooper-Moore remains a fringe figure in contemporary jazz, even in the circles traveled by players of improvised music, by definition the fringe itself. Adding insult to the injury done to his potential for fame is the fact that he seems incapable of making an uninteresting record. Hum Crackle & Pop is the second release by Digital Primitives, with saxophonist Assif Tsahar and drummer Chad Taylor.

Cooper-Moore long ago established himself as a master pianist but seems to have left his piano behind in favor of his cache of homemade instruments like the diddley-bow, mouth-bow, twanger and bango (to name just a few of the more easily nameable). Hence, Digital Primitives revels in unusual sounds. If you're looking for music that separates itself from usual run-of-the-mill jazz recordings, you're not likely to hear anything quite like this.

The diddley-bow traces its roots to rural blues as a single-string bass. The mouth-bow sounds like a jaw harp, its tones formed by the throat and shape of one's mouth. The twanger...twangs. And the bango seems to be part banjo, part National steel and part Stratocaster. All of them might be amplified and distorted. Around this Taylor lays down steady, funky beats and Tsahar blows freely with strained intensity. "Love Truth" begins as a plea and builds to something more desperate and feral. A take on "Over the Rainbow," at first only vaguely recognizable, features Tsahar's emotional melody line soiled and undercut by Cooper-Moore's dirty sawing. "The People" centers on Cooper-Moore's wonderful singing voice, slashed and looped to ask the question, "Do the people have a right?" Unfortunately, because Digital Primitives is dedicated to sound, sometimes for its own sake, a couple of tracks feel long, jammy, a bit unfocused and inconclusive. Perhaps a small price to pay in the face of such originality and fascinating rhythms.

Track Listing: Walkabout; Crackle N Pop; Love Truth; The People; Hum; Somewhere; No Holiday; Herenowhere; For Fred; Twice.

Personnel: Cooper-Moore: diddley-bow, mouth bow, bango, voice; Assif Tsahar: tenor sax, bass clarinet; Chad Taylor: drums, percussion.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Hopscotch Records | Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde


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