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On this new release we are once again treated to the collaboration of American guitarist, humorist and steadfast improviser, Eugene Chadbourne with the dynamic hard hitting Italian modern jazz quartet known as “Zu”. For their second effort, wittily titled Motorhellington, this quintet now sees good reason to parody leather clad heavy metal warriors; “Black Sabbath” and “Motorhead” along with pieces by Jobim, Mingus and others. Essentially, “ZU” pursues somewhat of an unlikely track mix, as the liners indicate that the band also performed works by Duke Ellington during their recent European tour. Hence the title Motorh(ead)Ellington.
What a joy to hear Chadbourne sing the lyrics to Sabbath’s “Iron Man”, atop bone crunching rhythms and a blaring horn section or check out their hard rock/modern jazz spin on Don Covay’s pop classic, “Chain of Fools” and James Brown’s funked up -“Sex Machine”. Sure, Chadboune isn’t an accomplished vocalist, however the band’s sometimes-zany approach and clever arrangements provide the recipe for a stimulating listening experience. Yet the word is out, that this aggregation has been tearing it up via their recent European performances as they ceaselessly find novel ways to incorporate jazzy motifs with a high impact and electrified mode of operation. Recommended!
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.