Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Elliot Sharp's Terraplane – Forgery (Intuition, 2007)

Like many of the musicians on the downtown scene, guitarist Elliot Sharp leads or is a member of several different ensembles. Terraplane is his blues ensemble, where he is accompanied by Curtis Fowlkes on trombone, Alex Harding on baritone saxophone, David Hofstra on bass, Toney Lewis on drums, Eric Mingus and Tracie Morrison vocals. “Smoke and Mirrors” leads off the recording with a broken and shifting beat, before Mingus' deep shouted vocals and the horns enter. “Tell Me Why” and the medley of “Katrina Blues/How The Crescent City Got Bleached” add a political element to the mix, taking the blues down deep to their roots as a rallying cry of oppressed people, while adding some interesting funk elements to the mix. “Dance 4 Lance” is a wonderfully upbeat tribute to a fallen musician and friend of the band, while “War Between the States” and “Badlands” mix electric and acoustic guitar with slide accents and horns to present a progressive alternative to much music passing as the blues today. Musicians like Sharp and James “Blood” Ulmer are using jazz and avant-garde musics to push the traditional music of the blues in new and interesting directions with very positive results. This is a very interesting band that is a welcome breath of fresh air in both the blues and jazz scenes.

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