Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord: Make Magic Happen

Karl Ackermann By

Sign in to view read count
Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord: Make Magic Happen
Guitarist Jon Lundbom, with his Big Five Chord quintet, has developed the unusual marketing strategy of individually presenting each of a series of four EPs (at lower price points) over the course of 2016 with an option to purchase all as a box set. At approximately one half-hour each, it's a generous proposition; more so, given the quality of the music as witnessed on the first of these releases, Make Magic Happen.

Big Five Chord is a solidly established staple of Moppa Elliott's Hot Cup Records label, cross- pollinated with label-mates Jon Irabagon on alto saxophone and bassist, Elliott, both of Mostly Other People Do the Killing (MOPDtK). Perhaps not so surprisingly, there is something of a stylistic similarity between the two groups as well. Big Five Chord expertly juggles boisterousness and refinement in an atmosphere of controlled chaos. Make Magic Happen consists of two Lundbom originals and one Ornette Coleman composition.

Lundbom is a master of animated and intensely concentrated improvisation and his playing is capable of producing a full range of moods. Saxophonists Bryan Murray—credited as "Balto Exclamationpoint" plays his own hybrid sax that is part alto, part baritone and utilizes a plastic reed. More points here for inventiveness than for acoustics which can sometimes sound like a kazoo on steroids. The adaptable drummer Dan Monaghan is on the jazz faculty at his alma mater, Temple University, and has performed with saxophonist Eric Alexander and Randy Brecker among others.

"Ain't Cha" opens with the reeds out front but Elliott and Monaghan soon guide a transition to a Lundbom's intensely visceral and dynamic lead, one that is much in the rock vein. "La Bomb" is considerably more subdued with subtly off- kilter horns setting up a low, rumbling Lundbom solo before Irabagon and Murray regain control. Coleman's "Law Years" closes the set and, early on, gives us one of Elliott's richest extended solos in a spotlight that he too infrequently takes for himself.

Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord tread dangerous waters on their recordings. The cooperative nature of improvisations and the willingness to play outside the formal limits of jazz, combined with touches of humor all make for challenging navigation. Nevertheless, they pull it off with largely successful results. If Make Magic Happen is an indication of the upcoming EPs in the larger collection, it promises to be one of the significant music events of the year.

Track Listing

Ain't Cha; La Bomb; Law Years.


Jon Lundbom: guitar; Moppa Elliot: bass; Dan Monaghan:drums; Jon Irabogon: alto saxophone; Balto Exclamationpoint: tenor sax, prepared tenor sax; balto!saxophone

Album information

Title: Make Magic Happen | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Hot Cup Records

Post a comment about this album


Shop Amazon


Secret Suite
Nick Lombardelli
The One And The Other
Lara Solnicki
Flatbosc & Cautery
Frank Gratkowski, Achim Kaufmann, Wilbert de...
Shuffling Ivories
Roberto Magris
Steven Feifke Big Band
Sogni D’oro
Berlin Mallet Group
Light as a Word
Remy Le Boeuf
Love is the Key
Sue Maskaleris


All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.