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The music on this record was written by Thom Gossage after the band’s tour in 2002 and reflects the experiences during that period as well as the individual and collective strengths of the group. Also included is music outside the pale of those times.
Gossage keeps his music at a slow simmer when it is not sombre. This gives it a sameness of approach when a change of moods and discernible tempo would have resulted in a balanced outing. The opening track, “Ring Around The Rainer,” begins brightly, but then the duelling horns of Rémi Bolduc and Frank Lozano take that away and stay locked in combat a tad too long. When they give way to the ensemble there isn’t a cognitive feature that would have raised the song to an appealing level.
One could understand if there was a gradual heating when it came to “Slow Poke,” which is how it should be. In actuality Gary Schwartz lilts with the acoustic guitar, leading Miles Perkin to sing in gentle exultation and with an undercurrent of joy that envelops the band before the pulse rises to kick in the climax. Schwartz rocks on “The Message,” bending notes on the electric guitar, pushed by Gossage on the drums opening the avenue for the horns to play in and shift the timbre to a more sedate stance. Watching musicians at their craft is not the same as listening to them, that's for sure.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.