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Jazz relies on instrumental virtuosity and the reputation of the people making it to distinguish itself, but the Thirsty Ear Blue Series seems to take the opposite approach. Extending the tradition of the Antipop Consortium, the Blue Series Continuum and the Free Zen Society, Scotty Hard's Radical Reconstructive Surgery is another semi-anonymous project that puts producer and engineer Scott Harding (Wu-Tang Clan, Medeski Martin & Wood, among others) in charge of fragmented keyboard melodies and drum-and-bass grooves that are sampled, remixed and mashed up into the sort of jazztronica for which Thirsty Ear has come to be known.
The common ingredient in all of these projects is Blue Series curator Matthew Shipp, who gets second billing on this CD along with John Medeski. Both are credited here on a variety of keyboards and synthesizers, but ubiquitous Blue Series bassist William Parker, along with drummer Nasheet Waits (who hits as hard as Questlove on "The Peeler ) define these tracks as much or more than the melodies do, groove-based as these soundscapes tend to be.
At times this disc is reminiscent of Black Cherry (AUM Fidelity, 2002), where Organic Grooves remade Parker and Hamid Drake's Piercing the Veil (AUM Fidelity, 2001) into the sort of jazzy ambient music that's short on soloing but long on atmospherics. "Eclipse, with its hot organ riffing, and "St. Clare's Hospital, which highlights Parker's chunky and forceful attack, are among the least affected and uncluttered tracks and count as the most successful pieces on the CD. Additional contributions from drummer Mauricio Takara and turntablist DJ Olive are less certain, however, and suggest that the resulting whole might be somewhat less than the sum of its parts.
Track Listing: Primary Humor; Chance Operation; St. Clareís Hospital; Noonday Demon; The General; Eclipse; Apothecaryís Cabinet; The Peeler; Anatomy of Melancholy; Round 2.
Personnel: John Medeski: organ, wurlitzer, moog synthesizer, mellotron, clavinet, piano; Matthew Shipp: piano, wurlitzer, organ; William Parker: bass; Nasheet Waits: drums; DJ Olive: turntables; Mauricio Takara: drums and percussion; Scotty Hard: drum machines, samplers, optigan, percussion.