Sunday, April 05, 2015

Chris Lightcap's Bigmouth - Epicenter (Clean Feed, 2015)

Bassist Chris Lightcap has worked with a who’s-who of A-list modern jazz talent, but as of yet has released comparatively few albums as a leader. His latest finds him in august company, with Craig Taborn on keyboards, Tony Malaby and Chris Cheek on tenor saxophone and Gerald Cleaver on drums. The ensemble works very well together and the music is consistently interesting. “Nine South” opens with electric piano and saxophones as the music blasts off fast and hard, carving a deep and truly exciting path. Both the solos and ensemble playing is first rate, including percussive keyboards and punishing drums. The saxophones roar out of the gate on “Epicenter,” giving way to a thick and nimble piano, bass and drums section. After some initial probing by one of the saxophonists, the whole group comes in with the power and urgency of a big band, not necessarily playing free, but unencumbered and thrillingly fast. “Down East” develops a powerfully percussive rhythm to underscore squalls of saxophone that achieve an exciting feel, like being bludgeoned by a tidal wave of music. Saxophones slither about on “Stilwell” building the anticipation piece by piece in the shadow of a shape-shifting keyboards before they rip through and fly intertwined over throbbing bass and drums. There is a solemn and reverent feel to “Stone By Stone” with saxophone elegies and beams of keyboard building up with the horns fleshing out their sound along with some elastic bass but the overall sense of mystery prevails. Ending the album by covering The Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties” was a truly inspired idea where the bass led intro builds to percussive piano that recalls the original and vocalized saxophone ably taking the place of Nico’s moody vocals. This album was excellent and deserves to be remembered when the best-of lists are bandied about in December. The musicians are motivated, and the music is bright and bustling with ideas. Epicenter -

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