Released this year, “Screwdriver” was recorded between 1991 and 1993 by Walter Horn, (kbrds, misc. instruments) Gary Kendig (drums, trumpet, misc. instruments) and Hugh Dickey (guitar, clarinet, vocals, misc. instruments). Three amigos with seemingly distorted views of mankind as portrayed via their esoteric and at times, outlandish compositions. The opening track “Chainsaw at Sousa’s Funeral” features an onslaught of distorted guitars, on the fly rhythms, backwash electronic treatments and by design, corny 1960’s electronic keyboard sounds and quotations. Comparisons? .... Images of King Crimson’s Robert Fripp collaborating with New York City Downtown keyboard whiz Anthony Coleman come to mind or perhaps an impromptu jam session between guitarist/composer Fred Frith and the late Sun Ra? Clocking in at 15 minutes, many of the passages and motifs seem to self-destruct, complete with out-of-control clarinet and some accordion thrown in for tonal color. Don’t let your guard down because the next track, “Containment Apron” features raggedy vocals that purposely state “I am wearing an apron, and I’m on teenage cost containment”. Drums and electronic keyboards run amok yet guitarist Hugh Dickey can tear it up in true progressive rock fashion. On “Hurricane Elroy” it’s balls to the walls as this piece takes on a free-jazz feel. Guest artist Eric Hipp lends a helping hand on Tenor Sax as the boys proceed on a swift and frenetic pace featuring some impressive drumming by Gary Kendig. “Ambulance and Gas Provided by Mutilation Bros,. Inc” is a turbo-charged burner, which may relate to fans of King Crimson. Here, guitarist Dickey emulates an ambulance siren with his guitar. The closer, “Screwdriver” features a wall of distorted sound, fierce adept guitar work by Dickey and Bill Bruford style back-beat pounding from drummer Gary Kendig. This track could have been an out-take from King Crimson’s 1970’s classic, “Red”; however, these chaps do carve out a unique identity for themselves which leans toward a much freer approach than one would normally witness in progressive rock circles.
“Screwdriver” is complex and for the most part difficult to characterize save for the occasional comparisons to King Crimson and/or Sun Ra; however, if you yearn for something that lies within the fringes of free-jazz and extreme progressive rock than this recording has quite a bit to offer. “Screwdriver” demands your undivided attention and is not by any means casual listening. Borrowing from the British comedy troupe Monty Python: ............”And now, for something completely different”... or something to that effect. Recommended!
All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.