Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Funkwrench Blues: Soundtrack For A Film Without Pictures

7

Funkwrench Blues: Soundtrack For A Film Without Pictures

By

Sign in to view read count
Funkwrench Blues: Soundtrack For A Film Without Pictures
Once upon a time it was hard to walk into an arthouse cinema without bumping into a jazz soundtrack. Miles Davis' for Louis Malle's Ascenseur Pour L'échafaud (1958), Charles Mingus' for John Cassavetes' Shadows (1959), Krzysztof Komeda's for Roman Polanski's Knife In The Water (1962) were among a legion of similarly inclined endeavours.

But all that was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. In the 2020s, if you want to hear a freshly minted jazz soundtrack, you probably need to find one billed, like this one from Funkwrench Blues, as Soundtrack For A Film Without Pictures or, as others have been subtitled, Soundtrack For An Imaginary Movie.

One little known but highly recommended example is Italian baritone saxophonist and composer Alessandro Meroli's Notturni (Space Echo, 2020), a mix of jazz, psychedelia, electronica, Bollywood and classical-contemporary. It was in part inspired by Louis-Ferdinand Céline's 1932 novel "Journey To The End Of The Night." It could be dubbed a long-form acid-jazz flashback. (A review of Notturni can be read here).

California-based bassist, bass guitarist and composer Frank Swart a.k.a. Funkwrench Blues' Soundtrack For A Film Without Pictures is similarly tripped out. Swart, who has been round the block, may or may not have enjoyed his share of recreational consciousness-expansion along the way—but based on this album, five gets you ten that he has. The music is also loosely based on a book, Joseph Campbell's 1949 literary-philosophical dissertation "The Hero With A Thousand Faces." Unlike Meroli's soundtrack, however, Swart's is heavily laced with funk and blues.

The album also features cameo performances from an A-list roster of guest artists including saxophonists Gary Bartz, Dave Liebman, Bill Evans, George Garzone and Idris Ackamoor. It is probably no coincidence that three of these gents are alumni of Miles Davis' electric bands, for Soundtrack For A Film Without Pictures sounds like a modern-day recalibration of the sort of music Davis was making in the early 1970s. Check the Gary Bartz showcase, "The Call," on the YouTube below.

And Swart does it with more panache than, most of the time, did Davis. Listeners who remain unconvinced by Davis' forays into the genre are not necessarily reactionaries who think jazz has to remain stuck in the acoustic era. They can point to substantive weaknesses in Davis' electric oeuvre, not least Davis' own uneasy grip on funk aesthetics, the inadequacy of some of the musicians with which he peopled his bands, and the ugly attention-seeking chromaticism which he adopted on the trumpet for want of a better approach. A brief essay, "Miles Davis & Don Cherry: Which One Is The Grifter?," can be read here (though electric-era Davis shills are best advised to skip it).

None of these issues afflict Swart's album. The assembled company are initiates of jazz and funk, technically adept, and seekers not of ugliness but of beauty, albeit beauty in the raw.

Track Listing

The Life; The Call; The Refusal; The Meeting; The Crossing; The Test; The Approach; The Ordeal: The Reward; The Road Back; The Resurrection; The Return; Credits.

Personnel

Additional Instrumentation

Frank Swart: bass, guitars (1-13), drums (13); David DR Robbins: saxophone & flute (1, 6, 9, 11-13); Thomas Pridgen: drums (1, 9); Gary Bartz: saxophone (2); Derrek Phillips: drums (2); Evan Hatfield: sitar (3); Christopher Hoffman: cello (3, 12, 13); Max Weissenfeldt: drums (3); George Garzone: saxophone (4); Simone Pannozzo: drums (4, 12); Warren Wolf: vibes (5); Scott Amendola: drums (5, 7); Chris West: bass clarinet (6); Greg Stephens: trombone (6); Aaron Priskorn: trumpet (6); George Hearst: drums (6); Mike Clark: drums (6, 11); Bill Evans: saxophone (7); Idris Ackamoor: saxophone (8); Tony Price: percussion (8); Mai Bloomfield: cello (9;) John Deaderick: piano (9;) Dave Liebman: saxophone (10); Andrew Guterman: drums (10).

Album information

Title: Soundtrack For A Film Without Pictures | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Need To Know

Comments


For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter 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.

Tags

More

Tidal Currents: East Meets West
Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra
This Celestial Engine
This Celestial Engine
Flax
Martin Arnold
Whisper Not
Paul Kendall

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.