Left End has definitely got attitude. Combining the rock aesthetic with jazz improvisation, guitarist Rick Peckham has a background in jazz academics (he taught a Thelonious Monk class for ten years at Berklee) and with rock influences (ZZ Top and Neil Young). Jazz and rock music have had an interesting, if somewhat uneasy, relationship over the years. Early examples included Jimi Hendrix's merging free style playing with classic rock elements, as did Jeff Beck, Scott Henderson, and countless other guitarists whom have explored the duality of styles.
But let's get one thing straight from the start; Peckham's trio is not your typical "fusion" groupa category which has sometimes been an overly abused classification for modern jazz combined with over-amplification and distorted guitars. Call it what you will, Left End clearly rocks hard while still processing the ability to be expressive and spontaneous. The trio is hot and the music is performed with intensity and an in your face vibe that resonates realness.
From the title composition things are clearly bent toward the edgier side of the spectrum with its power guitar riffs and booming rhythm section. With influences from Monk to Led Zeppelin, Peckham has opted to not just combine two styles but to more so articulate a passion for the music. His guitar playing is quite accomplished as he uses and abuses his axe with fiery skill, utilizing sounds such as distortion, delay, and phase effects without the use of overdubbing.
On the energized "353-1001" things shift from a funky riff to more complex and open patterns as the trio plays with abandon. Drummer Jim Black is a dynamic musician who expands the compositions with an assortment of power rhythms, subtle designs and contours on the improv themed "Free 2." Bassist Tony Scherr adds a firm foundation to the music and also delivers some interesting work with skillful hands on the quiet yet surreal piece "Soporific."
The trio is not confined to just head-banging but also deliver some introspective and most interesting work on the soulful composition "Shakey" and the serene "Hawthorn," demonstrating these players' range. Other highlights include the ZZ Top-inspired "Gibbons" and the eclectic antics of "Free 1." With a nod to jazz purists, the CD concludes with a unique take on Monk's ever classic "Evidence." Whether a hidden message is intended, the real deal is clearly whether the music can connect to the listenerbe it jazz or rockand this clearly sets Left End in the right direction.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.