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With music that makes use of saxophone harmonies against a backdrop of free jazz, Guaranteed Swahili’s third release, Three More Years, intricately delivers expressive and tightly knit musical ideas. The piano-less quartet which now resides in New York was formed in 1995 in the vibrant Boston jazz scene with associations with other popular area musicians such as the sax group Dead Cat Bounce and widely known artists Danilo Perez and Joe Lovano.
The first thing that grabs the inner ear is the group’s sound. Though saxophonists Jason Hunter and Eric Rasmussen are the primary soloists, their counterparts—drummer Eric Thompson and bassist Tim Luntzel—are equally impressive. The individual performances are all noteworthy, yet group unity is really what creates the excitement. Each solo performance is accentuated by the other members' contributions, which in turn gives the music a multi-layered sound.
The recording has the feel of an open jam session as musicians layer their instruments on the opening track, “New Diet Revolution.” Things take a more structured turn on the next piece, “Remembrance,” which quietly introduces the theme and then blossoms into different tempos and impressive solos all encased in a third world rhythm. Other selections are more exploratory, such as the free for all “Chad’s Pregnant,” which spotlights exceptional electric bass work and drum kit magic.
Things take a turn towards the dark side on the introspective “Hair on My Pillow,” which combines elements of both harmony and dissonance as the percussion and bass compellingly pushes the theme. Rasmussen and Hunter clearly have a musical bond as they interact with ease. On the reflective “When,” the duality of horns results in contrasting tones that create some interesting balladry. The recording also benefits from exceptional sound quality that further accentuates the group’s noteworthy performance.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.