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 airylike those of saxophonist Joe Hendersonlines 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 Triowhich sounds more like a quartet, thanks to guitarist Hiltz' use of bass pedalshas an upbeat, party-time feeling, made by virtuosic players who seems to find nothing wrong with having a good time with their music.
Track Listing: Stawman; The Kuleshascope; For Otis; MGM; Steppin' Out; Bone Arm; Port Hillford Railway; This is What You Get; The Rainbow Connection; Movie Theme--Condor and Squid.
Personnel: Johnny Griffith: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Nathan Hiltz: electric guitar, bass pedals; Sly Juhas: drums.
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.