92

Ro Sham Beaux: Ro Sham Beaux

Dave Wayne By

Sign in to view read count
Ro Sham Beaux: Ro Sham Beaux Most jazz tunes are arranged in a certain way: head, solos, head. It's a valid and useful way to present improvised musical ideas based on a theme or chord progression. The head can be a simple melody or a convoluted riot of contrasting harmonies and tempi. Rock or pop songs are constructed differently: verse, chorus, verse, plus an intervening bridge and perhaps a short instrumental solo. Ro Sham Beaux plays around with both of these archetypes in an amusing and innovative way. Much of what they do falls closer to the rock/pop arena in that their compositions hew closer to the verse (bridge), chorus, verse (bridge), chorus model.

It's not hard to imagine saxophonist Zac Shaiman as a vocalist—his lines are clean and simple but his delivery is dramatic and carefully paced. Like Eddie Harris, he's a superb technician who doesn't always feel the need to prove that he's a superb technician. Also like Harris, Shaiman is quite fond of electronically augmented saxophone sounds. Though he's playing a digital keyboard of some sort, Luke Marantz really loves those crusty old distorted Fender Rhodes sounds, his urgent, rhythmically adept playing reminiscent of Jan Hammer. The rhythm section—drummer Jacob Cole and bassist Oliver Watkinson—plays with an appealing combination of grace and athleticism. Cole's traps work is pitch-perfect. Though he doesn't really sound like David King or Jim Black, Cole's off-kilter fills and extensive use of metric modulation are similar to strategies employed by both. Watkinson is superb— all warm, woody sound, and deep groove.

The eleven tunes are varied, concise, and certainly come from a world where indie rock, jam bands, and modern jazz all peacefully coexist as equals. It's tempting to compare the sound of Ro Sham Beaux to Medeski, Martin & Wood or the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey. But Ro Sham Beaux stands out, not only by virtue of Shaiman's wailing saxophone, but also because its approach is much closer to that of an indie rock band than to a funk or jazz band. Ro Sham Beaux' prime directive is putting its tightly-conceived songs across.

The group's melodic content alone is remarkable, with "Bearblade," "Town," or "Tejas Drive" particularly irresistible and memorable. "Meatballs..." almost lapses into a smooth jazz territory, only to be de-mellowed by Watkinson's excellent solo. Things go bucolic on "Town," rock heavy on "Soul Crusher," and abstractly funky on "keut str8 boiz." Yet, as evidenced by the CD's final two tracks, "High Society" and "Anthem," Ro Sham Beaux can be risky, complex, and experimental when it wants to be.

Ro Sham Beaux is one of the year's most accomplished and fascinating debut CDs in any musical style. The group's sound and its songs are downright habit-forming—and repeated listens reveal new and different angles every time.

Track Listing: Bearblade; Slave to the Cube; keut str8 boiz; Town; Soul Crusher; Tejas Drive; Meatballs are the Way to a Woman's Heart; Joga; Dreamulator; High Society; Anthem.

Personnel: Zac Shaiman: saxophones and effects; Luke Marantz: keyboards; Oliver Watkinson: bass; Jacob Cole: drums and glockenspiel.

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Red Piano Records


Shop

More Articles

Read Circles CD/LP/Track Review Circles
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 24, 2017
Read Windmills CD/LP/Track Review Windmills
by Edward Blanco
Published: March 24, 2017
Read Ugly Beautiful CD/LP/Track Review Ugly Beautiful
by David A. Orthmann
Published: March 24, 2017
Read Trickster CD/LP/Track Review Trickster
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 24, 2017
Read Caipi CD/LP/Track Review Caipi
by Geannine Reid
Published: March 24, 2017
Read United CD/LP/Track Review United
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 23, 2017
Read "Intermission" CD/LP/Track Review Intermission
by Dave Wayne
Published: June 24, 2016
Read "I Can Do All Things" CD/LP/Track Review I Can Do All Things
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 14, 2016
Read "King Of Xhosa" CD/LP/Track Review King Of Xhosa
by James Nadal
Published: January 23, 2017
Read "Blues, Preludes and Feuds" CD/LP/Track Review Blues, Preludes and Feuds
by Geannine Reid
Published: November 22, 2016
Read "Colors for the Masters" CD/LP/Track Review Colors for the Masters
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: August 6, 2016
Read "Sunrain" CD/LP/Track Review Sunrain
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 3, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: DOT TIME RECORDS | BUT IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!