Philadelphia-based trumpeter Rob Diener looks a bit like a New Orleans' own young Dr. John (a younger version, to be sure) on the cover of his sophomore effort, No Assembly Required. He's got the beret and the spiffy dudsbut there's no Dr. John keyboard in sight. The trumpet in Diener's hand, angled up by his shoulder, is his musical ax.
Dr. John and New Orleans references aside, Diener and his Anomaly bandwith a three-horn front line and deep-groove rhythm sectiondo let the good times roll. They come right out of the gate in that fashion with "A Musical Salute to Iceland (Our Friends to the North)," featuring a loose horn arrangement over seismic groove, with lots of space for the soloistsDiener (trumpet), Chuck Dressler (trombone), Chris Heslop (tenor sax)to get frisky and cut loose, before guitarist Marty Bonk gets into a twangy mode that sounds as if it would fit into a country song somewhere.
Bonk, incidentally, wrote all the tunes on the disc except for the standard "Bye Bye Blackbird." Though the arrangements sound fresh and interesting, those credits aren't listed, but I'll guess he had a hand in them, too. That, along with the songwriting credits, perhaps should have garnered him co-leader status.
"Record scratcher" Eric "Meeshu" Boltz appears on the opener and the next cut, "Pop Bop," slipping frictional scritchings in just the right places with a deft touch, adding a tang of modernity without sacrificing the organic feel of the music. "Ode to Husqvarna" does a slow march at its inception, then winds itself up into a sort of Horace Silver-esque cool bop mode, and "Scooter and Stretch" has a relaxed horn feeling over a very danceable groove, like something you might want to hear late in a live set after a drink or two.
The one misstep on the disc is "Bye Bye Blackbird." The tune that demands a subtler, lighter touch than the group gives it here, making it sound a bit ham-fisteda risk that didn't quite pay off.
Overall a good effort by Rob Diener and Anomaly, a band that sounds like it must kick it in a live setting.
Track Listing: A Musical Salute to Iceland (Our Friends to the North); Pop-Bop; Bye-Bye Blackbird; Ode to
Husqvarna. Scooter and Stretch; From the Heart; Mikey's House; The three Brothers (From a
Personnel: Rob Diener: trumpet & flugelhorn; Chris Heslop: tenor saxophone; Chuck Dressler: trombone;
Marty Bonk: guitar; Mike Grossman: keyboards; Paul Gallello: drums; Mike Gordon: elctric
bass; Eric "Meeshu" Boltz: record scratching (1,2).
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.