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Griffith Hiltz Trio: This Is What You Get...

Dan McClenaghan By

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Canada's Griffith Hiltz Trio opens its second album, This Is What You Get..., with "Strawman," which sounds like a cross between a theme song for a Secret Agent Man movie and crunchy guitar-style, 1960s-era surf rock, featuring saxophonist Johnny Griffith's crisp melody lines and drummer Sly Juhas' shuffling rhythm. Then guitarist Nathan Hiltz twangs toward an atmosphere of the movie Deliverance (1972) by plunking into a back country banjo groove. Strong sounds to open a strong recording.

"The Kuleshascope" blends heavy metal Black Sabbath doom with Griffith's airy—like those of saxophonist Joe Henderson—lines inside a tight rhythm. Then it's back to a segment of doom, leading into the soulful "For Otis," a nod to R&B legend Otis Redding. It's a laidback groove of a tune that showcases Hiltz's crisp chording and bluesy single notes.

"Steppin' Out" comes out of alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman's mode of simple but captivating melodies, while "Bone Arm" soothes the soul with a modal groove.

The title tune is highly danceable, and sounds as if the players are having a fine time. Griffith breaks out the bass clarinet on "The Rainbow Connection, " a turn with a "lost in a trippy dream" feeling.

The Griffin Hiltz Trio—which sounds more like a quartet, thanks to guitarist Hiltz' use of bass pedals—has an upbeat, party-time feeling, made by virtuosic players who seems to find nothing wrong with having a good time with their music.

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