Monday, June 28, 2010

Bryan and the Haggards - Pretend It's the End of the World (Hot Cup, 2010)

Instrumental avant-garde jazz/country bands are pretty thin on the ground, so chances are Bryan and the Haggards will have a chance to carve out a nice niche for themselves. Considering the band has some of the same musicians from the wonderful and irreverent group Mostly Other People Do the Killng, you can be assured that the music will be interesting. Consisting of Bryan Murray on tenor saxophone, Jon lrabagon on alto saxophone, Jon Lundbom on guitar, Moppa Elliott on bass and Danny Flscher on drums, the band develops a playful and exciting mashup of divergent genres. "Silver Wings" opens the album with grinding guitar and yearning emotional saxophone taken at a medium tempo. The two saxophones then build to a potent rousing climax. An easy going loping swing introduces "Swinging Doors" with the two saxophones improvising together before one steps out with a raw boned solo over shuffling drums. "Working Man Blues" is a highlight of the set with fast paced guitar and drums, with strong saxophone developing an Ornette-ish free-bop feel supported by rapid drumming. Lundbom gets into the act too, developing a thrilling guitar interlude reminiscent of Sonny Sharrock. "Miss the Mississippi and You" cools things out a little bit with a sweet ballad featuring harmonizing horns that swirl and probe. This track builds to a wonderful swirling trade of ideas. "All of Me Belongs to You" takes the groups irreverence to a peak with a loping, goofy western swing groove and fun upbeat vocal scatting. The blues standard "Trouble in Mind" ends the album on a very high note, featuring a majestic opening with the horns and guitar building to an emotional peak, before moving to a wild and exciting full band improvisation. This bands cheeky brand of fun masks serious intent. Much like the aforementioned MOPDTK and The Band Plus, the musicians are having a blast while playing exciting music at a very high level. Pretend It's The End Of The World - amazon.com

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