Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Brooklyn Blowhards - self/titled (Little (I) Music, 2016)

Saxophonist Jeff Lederer looked to connect a line between his love of sea shanties and the music of Albert Ayler. Both used simple and memorable melodies ripe for explosive improvisation and call and response architecture. He built a crack band around this notion including Petr Cancura on tenor saxophone; Kirk Knuffke on cornet and slide trumpet, Brian Drye on trombone, Art Bailey​ on accordion and Matt Wilson, Allison Miller and Stephen LaRosa​ on percussion, with special guests Mary LaRose​ on vocal and Gary Lucas​ on guitar. There is a wonderful fanfare melody to Albert Ayler’s “Bells” which opens the album. Ayler loved marching bands and national anthems, and this group carries his legacy well, with a jaunty strut thrown in to boot. “Haul Away Joe” has trombone and yearning horns in a call and response section, before accordion and keening trumpet up the emotional ante over muscular percussion. There is some tart sounding saxophone to open “Dancing Flower” as the full band fills in and the horns swell forward. The percussionists and swirling saxophone make for a kaleidoscopic sound, a whirling dervish of sensory experience, with the accordion framing just out of reach adding an exotic touch to the music. Raw saxophones give a wonderfully exciting sound to “Black Ball Line” and then the music comes full circle to righteous full band interplay with crashing cymbals and roiling drums under a saxophone trade-off that has a joyous Ayler feel. “Island Harvest” is an obscure track from Ayler’s unfairly maligned album Music is the Healing Force of the Universe and it’s a joyous calypso featuring the vocals of Mary LaRose and a choppy rhythm that builds underneath the singing. There is a very nice section for Knuffke’s brass with percussion and saxophone weaving in and out, before the full band absorbs them in an upbeat and positive concluding improvisation. There’s a very short march through the melody of Ayler’s “Omega” with a wonderful taut rhythm, and it makes you wonder why these catchy Ayler themes aren’t played more often. LaRose returns on the folk standard “Shenenhoah” which features some very nice guitar from Gary Lucas as well. This album worked quite well, the idea of melding Albert Ayler with sea shanties was an inspired one and opened up some interesting vistas for exploration, and this very talented band made the most of them. Brooklyn Blowhards -

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