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Jon Lundbom and Big Five Chord: Quavers! Quavers! Quavers! Quavers!

Dave Wayne By

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Hot Cup Records has quickly established a reputation for documenting some of the most adventurous and quirky modern jazz around today. The label's flagship band, Mostly Other People Do the Killing (MOPDTK), is an incredibly energetic collective whose members seem to be popping up on all sorts of recordings these days. Half of MOPDTK, saxophonist Jon Irabagon and bassist Moppa Elliott, are also charter members of guitarist Jon Lundbom's Big Five Chord. Interestingly, the exact same personnel have also established a Merle Haggard tribute band (Bryan and the Haggards), led by tenor saxophonist Bryan Murray. All of this intense musical activity lends itself to the establishment of a high level of creative rapport—a quality that is readily apparent on Quavers! Quavers! Quavers! Quavers!.

In much the same way that MOPDTK explores and explodes the various facets of the jazz tradition, Lundbom dissects and reassembles jazz-rock fusion, grafting on bits of post-Albert Ayler free jazz and hard bop as he sees fit. This strangely- titled CD opens with "On Jacation," a woozy, hard-rocking, almost harmolodic tune with an insistent klezmer-ish melody fragment that is eventually smashed into submission by Lundbom's angular, virtuosic guitar solo and Danny Fischer's gloriously near-random traps bashing. If this solo is any indication, Lundbom is already moving away from the John Scofield / James Blood Ulmer influences he displayed on the band's previous effort, Accomplish Jazz. "The Bravest Little Pilot No. 2" couldn't be more different. Lundbom is just barely present, soloing almost inaudibly over an extended horn melody that sounds like something Krzysztof Komeda would've written had he lived longer and recorded for ECM. Irabagon solos first, wringing an impressive array of microtones out of his alto. Guest keyboardist Matt Kanelos takes the tune out with an extended, rambling, and quite lovely solo on a Rhodes-like keyboard.

"Meat Without Feet" starts with a disco-like rhythm that whirls up into a manic frenzy beneath Murray's honking, testifying tenor before breaking down into a rubato section for Lundbom's spooky, spidery guitar solo. "New Feats of Horsemanship" starts off where "Meat Without Feet" leaves off, only with Kanelos joining Lundbom for a moody, pensive and very abstract duet. The rest of the band appears about halfway through, and Murray takes the tune out with more howling impassioned tenor sax. "Faith-Based Initiative" returns to more hyperactive rhythmic territory, featuring some truly red-hot interaction between Lundbom, Elliott, and Fischer. Irabagon follows with an utterly insane sopranino sax solo that—for all of its over-the-top gutturalness—makes his getting such a nice, full, round sound out of what is normally an incredibly unpleasant-sounding instrument all the more remarkable.

Quavers! Quavers! Quavers! Quavers! represents a major step forward for Jon Lundbom and Big Five Chord. This is a band that, like MOPDTK, constantly takes musical risks and consistently comes up with inspired and spirited, all-original, poly-stylistic 21st Century jazz. Yet, they don't take themselves real seriously... just seriously enough for jazz fans to know they're a force with which to be reckoned.

Track Listing: On Jacation; The Bravest Little Pilot No. 2; Ears Like a Fox; Meat Without Feet; New Feats of Horsemanship; Faith-Based Initiative.

Personnel: Jon Lundbom: guitar; Jon Irabagon: alto and sopranino saxophones; Bryan Murray: tenor and alto saxophones; Moppa Elliott: bass; Danny Fischer: drums; Matt Kanelos: keyboards.

Title: Quavers! Quavers! Quavers! Quavers! | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Hot Cup Records

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