Thee Unhip is a poem by band member, trumpeter/electronics artist CJ Borosque. The seasoned and thoroughly hip band that was founded by woodwind ace Rent Romus in 1984 is a collaboration between West Coast experimental jazz record labels, Nine Winds and Edgetone. Exciting, raucous, slightly spaced-out and wily, the band has quite a bit of fun with the expressionistic side of jazz and improvisation. However, the quartet's proving ground is based on laudable technical faculties and intriguing song-forms, where bristling horns give way to foreboding plots, flourishing micro-themes and discretionary use of electronics to either lighten the load or instill ominous backdrops.
One of many album highlights find the band entering the sacred passageway left by late sax pioneer Eric Dolphy aptly titled, "Temple of Dolphy." Here, Romus blurts out an affable theme and mimics Dolphy's angular and recoiling mode of attack, seated within the freer realm of jazz. Moreover, 6-string electric bassist Ray Schaeffer fuses a steely undertow into the gushing and popping rhythmical component engineered by drummer Phillip Everett. Framed as a semi-structured improv vehicle, Romus' fiery romp is a no-holds barred exposition. He slices through steel with accuracy and ease, equating to a jovial soundscape, scraped with intensifying solos and Everett's colorific cymbals hits. They galvanize your neural system from start to finish, while projecting a take no prisoners approach throughout.
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.