Polish-born and current Canadian Jacek Kochan's 22nd release as a leader, Occupational Hazard, exists at the crossroads of straight ahead and electric jazz.
A drummer, composer and arranger, Kochan has played with a variety of musicians over the course of his long career. On Occupational Hazard he leverages this broad experience to bring together an unusual mix of instrumental and vocal talent, establishing an intriguing blend likely to appeal most to fans of accessible tunes dominated by guitar and bass.
In fact, Occupational Hazard is electric-guitar-laden, with multiple guitarists joining the cast. More than one track features multiple guitars to establish a dense texture. Contributing further to this layered feel is the use of effects more common in the rock genre. A second notable element is the mix of upright and electric bass, again with both being played at the same time on several pieces. Though, at times, this choice results in a muddy sound, it also deepens the album's overall resonance and allows for some compelling bass exchanges.
Another factor separating Occupational HazardElizabeth Shepherd. Known for her particularly rhythmic and poetic approach, Shepherd integrates well with Kochan's crisp snare, bass drum grooves and unpredictable flurries of fills. Her work on the Wurlitzer provides yet another tonal layer, bespeaking Kochan's skill as arranger. In short, Shepherd's presence elevates the first six pieces and her inclusion on additional tunes might have further solidified the album's overall effect.
As might be expected from a drummer, Kochan also imbues Occupational Hazard with compelling dynamics, as on a stand-out "Not to Be Trusted."
Occupational Hazard is an enjoyable album, delivered by estimable musicians, built on Kochran's crackling drum style and dynamic drumming. The pieces are well arranged using an unusual selection of instruments, making for a satisfying, groove-oriented experience.
Fear No More; Evident Monk; Not to be Trusted; Occupational Hazard; Misunderstood Intentions;
Soliloquy; Half Baked; Better Yet; Mocker's Lounge; Mocker's Lounge (reprise)
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