The select few who actually recognize Skerik's singular name will probably remember the saxophonist's recent wild and wacky adventures with Charlie Hunter, Wayne Horvitz and Bobby Previte with some nostalgia. The combination of skronk, groove and interjection he has laid down with these alternative proto-jazz icons seems to have crystallized over time, almost as much as it has simultaneously mutated in the process. This is the second Syncopated Taint Septet release after the group's 2003 self-titled debut on Ropeadope.
To the extent you'll ever be able to pin Skerik down, Husky is a wonderful snapshot of the cheeky rule-breaker (plus compatible-minded souls) in action. The band locks in on loose celebration from the word go, drawing directly from the New Orleans organ and horn traditions but modernizing them by about half a century along the way. Skerik has always operated with a good dose of the Big Easy on his mind, and his approach on this record is no big exception.
There are five horn players in the STS: Craig Flory, Hans Teuber, Steve Moore, Dave Carter and Skerik. And to their credit, whenever they pick up a different original composition (by Teuber, Moore or organist Joe Doria), the arrangements show an amazing consistency over time. There's no point in everyone trying to play at once, so arranged horn sections lead in and out of smaller-group jams, leaving everyone space to breathe along the way.
Certain sections (like the loud, dirty saxophone screams halfway through the funky, ten-minute "Fry His Ass") dig into a grungier mode, but they seem more in the spirit of testosterone madness than outright anger. The accelerating mass shout at the end of the aforementioned piece has more drama in it than actual pissed-offedness. Just like Previte's recent The Coalition Of The Willing, this release is packaged with political messages on the sleeve (eg. the title of track two, "Go to Hell, Mr. Bush") but very little on the disc itself.
Based on more than just the group's name (a funny reference to the first general in America's futile war on drugs), it's likely that Skerik and company might have taken two and passed before wetting their reeds. The music has a light, sparkly energy and seems to phase in and out of time as it tells its story. But taken together, the upbeat mood, deliberate groove, and occasional pinch of madness of this Syncopated Taint seem like just the right combination for everyone involved.
The Third Rail; Go To Hell Mr. Bush; Syncopate the Taint; Fry His Ass; Don
Skerik: tenor saxophone; Craig Flory: baritone saxophone; Dave Carter: trumpet; Hans
Teuber: alto saxophone, flute; Steve Moore: trombone, wurlitzer; Joe Doria: Hammond B-3;
John Wicks: drums.