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Guitarist Vernon Reid, bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma and drummer G. Calvin Weston give the power trio new meaning with Urban Mythology Volume One. Released under the moniker the Free Form Funk Freqs, the album is less jazz and more improvisational rock, powered by Weston's double bass drum and heavy crash, hard rock approach and Reid's space-bending, delay-loving fretwork.
The awesome impact of the trio is also shaped by Tacuma's ability to take a repetitive funk form and keep it interestingby finding new ways to interpolate the same idea, flipping patterns on their heads, adding and subtracting, dividing and conquering the rhythm he creates.
Remarkably, Urban Mythology Volume One marks just the third time that Reid, Tacuma and Weston ever performed together (the first being a night during Tonic's last days, the second a gig one month later in Weston's Philadelphia).
"A Tale Of Two Bridges" is thoroughly dominated by Reid, who unleashes note after note like bombs bursting in the air. His guitars dance around each other, as in an electronic seance, the strings conjuring sounds only angels and ghosts make.
"Over And Under" finds Tacuma slapping his bass with enough intensity to match Weston, who keeps a steady double bass beat going and crashes his cymbals as if playing for a crowd of thousands. After the workout that is "Over And Under," the trio wisely take things down a couple notches with "A Lost Way Found." Though it seems Weston didn't get the memo: as his bandmates settle into an atmospheric groove, the drums stay busy as ever.
"Cump Chank Chunk" is a bluesy riff that gets the trademark Thirsty Ear post-production touch, as Reid adds layers of angels moaning and other spectral sounds. "Doing Within," on the other hand, may be just too heavy a workout to sit through; some listeners, like the band, will likely have been whipped by the time this penultimate track comes along, worn out by the sheer funk freakiness of the session.
Reid and company are definitely onto something here, and hopefully they'll continue to explore this monster. Urban Mythology Volume One is punk rock jazz, free-form funk declaring sonic warfare on the rhythm and the beat.
Track Listing: A Tale Of Two Bridges; Don Cheadle; Ghost Sign Crossroad; Over And Under; A Lost Way Found; Nappy Hour; Chump Champ Chunk; Get Your Legs On; Doing Within; Street Corner Prophecy.
Personnel: Vernon Reid: guitar, guitar-synth, laptop; Jamaaladeen Tacuma: bass; G. Calvin Weston: drums.
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.