Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bryan and the Haggards - Still Alive and Kicking Down the Walls (Hot Cup, 2011)

Instrumental jazz /country/western swing bands are pretty rare, and this second album Bryan and the Haggards the further the niche they are trying to carve. Considering the band has some of the same musicians from the wonderful and irreverent label, Hot Cup 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. Byran and the Haggards make a valiant attempt at fusing country music, western swing and jazz in a busman's holiday for the Hot Cup Label crew. What results is a fun if not necessarily ground breaking mix of fun twangy rave ups recalling he days of sawdust floor saloons juxtaposed by cry-in-your-beer ballads. "Ramblin' Fever" opens with some shit-kickin' electric guitar and melodic upbeat saxophones bringing the honky-tonk fun with a dash of R&B, and a solid backbeat throughout. A chugging rhythm keeps "Seeing Eye Dog" moving with a western swing feel as a honking tenor saxophone probes and swirls. The saxes take turn honkin', bleatin' and walking the bar, before shards of guitar take over. "Twinkle Twinkle Luck Star" has strong guitar and saxophone with a midtempo yearning feel. Lundbom launches to a guitar solo with a slight but of raunchiness added in, before one of the saxophonists barrels in like a loud patron swinging into a western saloon. "Sing a Sad Song" slows things back down to a ballad tempo with melodic spare guitar adding a short solo. "Turnin' Off a Memory" has spoken introduction and a definite down on his luck feel exploratory saxophone squeaks over a mournful backbeat with guitar strums. The standard "San Antonio Rose" is the real odd-ball of the group, with some-honk-tonk western swing and the guitar swinging happily then a bowed bass solo with some vocalizing. Some of novelty has started to wear off from the group, but the album still provides quite a bit of enjoyment, and the musicians sound like they're having a ball. Still Alive and Kicking Down the Walls -

Send comments to Tim.