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Jeff Song & Lowbrow: The Other Pocket

Glenn Astarita By

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A native of Iowa, Jeff Song is an extremely talented electric bass technician while also exploiting his acute sense of band leading and improvisational attributes. Song has studied and performed within a Who’s Who of modern jazz, namely Joe Maneri, Ran Blake, Glenn Horiuchi, George E. Lewis and others. Here, with his band “Lowbrow”, Song embarks on a journey consisting of improvisation and composition that touch on many genres. The individual pieces represented on “The Other Pocket” are stylish improvisational works that flirt with jazz-chamber music albeit in somewhat of a jolted fashion. Lowbrow features a group of highly skilled and Institutionally educated musicians who share Song’s penchant for unorthodox rhythmic patterns and synergistic motifs yet somehow it all makes sense.

The piece titled “Can’t Not Hide” is a harbinger for themes and ideas detected throughout this recording. Michel Gentile’s flute strikes a delicate balance among the converging rhythms and meticulous construction of improvisational form and composition. Song’s assertive and fluid bass prowess serves as the lead instrument while maintaining the pulse with John Mettam’s inventive percussion and trap drum ventures. Cellist and part time pianist, Matt Turner equalizes the middle ground employing contrast and an underlying sense of development. Turner’s stout execution and compositional realization also produce an air of mystery and uncertainty. “Can’t Not Hide” and other tracks on this recording are built upon structured fragments, which eventually intersect in communal fashion among the instrumentalist’s. Trumpeters Cuong Vu and Dean Laabs alternate among various tracks providing the high register voice over the top. Cuong Vu is a young star on the rise and has honed hi! s craft with the likes of Dave Douglas, Andy Laster and Bobby Previte, themselves long time residents of the exciting New York City Downtown Scene. Laabs hails from the New England area and displays excellent technique and astute phrasing. As a unit, these gentlemen rarely seem complacent. Creativity sparks excitement here. On “Requiem For A Raga-Muffin” the musicians play their parts as if they were actors rehearsing for an Off-Broadway play. Matt Turner’s dissonant and abrupt piano articulations compliment the semblance of order and continuity. Unusual yet stimulating. Jeff Song & Lowbrow seldom lapse into sequences of self-absorption. “The Other Pocket” sustains interest while the awareness level among the musicians seems uncanny, especially for “on the spot” improv situations. If you yearn for something different and desire a little brain candy to stimulate your spirits then check out Jeff Song & Lowbrow. Recommended.


Personnel:

Jeff Song; bass: Michel Gentile; flute: John Mettam; percussion: Cuong Vu; trumpet (tracks 1,2,4,8,9,10): Matt Turner: cello; piano: Dean Laabs: trumpet (tracks 3,5,6,7)

Title: The Other Pocket | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Music & Arts


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