Sunday, April 07, 2019

Jon Lundbom / Bryan Murray - Beats by Balto! Vol. 1 (Chant Records, 2019)

This album is the result of a lengthy partnership between guitarist Jon Lundbom and saxophonist Bryan Murray. Murray acted as a modern day Teo Macero, sampling albums by Lundbom’s Big Five Chord band and building beats to which Lundbom composed new music. They then sent the tracks back and forth to record live performances of the new music, improvised solos, and accompaniment, with the final group consisting of Bryan Murray (aka Balto Exclamationpoint) on tenor, alto, soprano, and balto! saxophones, Jon Irabagon on alto, mezzo soprano, and slide saxophones, Jon Lundbom on guitar and beats by Balto Exclamationpoint. Leadoff track "Booberonic" has funky bass and drum beats which build with saxophones joining at a quick paced tempo, creating music that is complex but fun to listen to, with one of the saxophones breaking free to solo over bowed bass and choppy percussion developing a raw and real sound. The band really stretches out around the blowing, creating a very cool sound that is fresh and invigorating, with strong peals of sharp saxophone set against a buoyant backdrop. The saxophone drops out as the guitar glides in, building patiently and fitting into the rapid groove offered by the bass and drums. Lundbom digs in on a very impressive improvisation, shooting out sparks and beams across the entrenched rhythm team, adding high speed flurries of notes as they drift off into the fade. There is a loose groove on "Basic Bitches" with juicy saxophone weaving through it, then fluttering freely, taking to tune in a different direction, where loops are juxtaposed against raw scouring horn play. The pinched tone of the saxophone is arresting, taking a repetitive figure and then extrapolating from it with quick bursts of notes and raw sound, as the looping sounds inject a disorienting and psychedelic tinge. "Prednisone" develops a gentle opening with saxophones and guitar accenting the basic drumbeat. Horns playing together get an interesting texture that diverges in the mix as the horns separate, and the guitar arcs a golden tone across the top of the performance. Lundbom's sound is strong but accessible, performing a guitar solo that is powerful but not overly flamboyant, building a crunchy and searing sound that is a standout performance and one of his most memorable. After that, there is a searing saxophone solo, stark and potent, with a nasally sound that cuts through the relatively spare accompaniment leading to a looped finish. This process worked very well and produced an album of real value, regardless of the way in which it was produced. Hopefully this success will spur the musicians to further volumes and even more daring experiments. Beats by Balto! Vol. 1 -

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