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Eugene Chadbourne: The Hills Have Jazz

Kurt Gottschalk By

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Since starting his homegrown label a few years back, Eugene Chadbourne has had no end of opportunities to digitize his whims and send them to market. Among the many projects on his Chadula label has been a series (eight at present) of "horror CDs that run the gamut from arrangements of horror movie themes to unnerving found sound. So what terror to expect when Herr Doktor dedicates a disc to director Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm Street)?

Chadbourne and Craven have been friends for years—Chadbourne even had a role in Scream, but didn't make the final cut—and Craven is a jazz fan, so the results are far from frightful. Joined by a crew of Los Angeles session players, Chadbourne works through a surprising set of jazz comps, covering Tadd Dameron, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Sun Ra, and, daringly, Roscoe Mitchell's "Noonah.

It's got something of the punch and swagger of a Chadbourne date, but—as with his 2000 Texas Session—when he sits down with a roomful of hired guns, he doesn't waste time; antic and concept might sometimes obscure the fact, but Chadbourne's got chops to high heaven.

He plays a little too hard and a little too fast to perform in polite company, but then so did Albert Ayler (for that matter, hunt down a copy of Chadbourne's Ayler Undead tribute disc from 2001). If anything, jazz is about bringing something of yourself to the music—what else could explain Sun Ra? Chadbourne does that well, and with love.

Track Listing: Good Bait; Heavy Spirits; Saturn; 17 West; Noonah; Space Jazz Reverie; Miss Toni; Miles' Mode

Personnel: Eugene Chadbourne (acoustic guitar, banjo), Richie West (drums), Brian Walsh (tenor saxophone), Carey Fosse (electric guitar), Bill Barrett (harmonica), Dan Clucas (cornet, flute)

Title: The Hills Have Jazz | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Boxholder Records

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