Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Led Bib - Sensible Shoes (Cuneiform, 2009)

Led Bib is a British jazz (and fusion for the lack of a better term) band that combines the energy of rock 'n' roll with the exploratory improvisation of jazz. A popular club and concert attraction in the UK, this is there first album released widely in the United States. The group consists of Chris Williams and Pete Grogan on saxophones, Toby McClaren on keyboards, Liran Donin on bass and Mark Holub on drums. The group gets an interesting sound that incorporates hard driving post bop jazz with some of the spacier elements or progressive rock and fringe explorers like Sun Ra and Captain Beefheart. "Call Center Labyrinth" was my favorite track on the album, it taps into the enormous energy of the band with the propulsive drumming of Holub driving the twin saxophone front line forward in a very intense and rewarding structure which is as complicated as the title of the piece suggests. The interestingly named "Squirrel Carnage" and "Sweet Chili" were also compelling performances with aggressive solos and ensemble playing and interesting melodic elements. It's not all high energy music though, there are a few songs where they explore more distant sonic terrain, "Early Morning," "Water Shortage" and "2.4.1. (Still Equals None)" take a more abstract view of improvisation, spacey and drawn out, representing a different side of the bands personality. While these were interesting performances, I don't think they were as compelling as their full throttle pieces, and served more as places to catch your breath before the fun began again. They reminded me a little bit of some of the more dreamy interludes by earlier fusion bands like Weather Report or Return to Forever. This band's forward looking mix of jazz and rock 'n' roll makes it a natural fit for the Cuneiform label, and the wrok well in the outsider fusion vein with fellow label mates Fast 'n' Bulbous and The Ed Polermo Big Band, who are also exploring for innovative ways to integrate the energy of rock 'n' roll with the intricacies of jazz.
Sensible Shoes - amazon.com

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