Monday, May 06, 2019

Jon Lundbom and Big Five Chord - Harder on the Outside (Hot Cup, 2019)

Harder on the Outside is the ninth album by guitarist Jon Lundbom and his band Big Five Chord, featuring Justin Wood on alto and soprano saxophones, Bryan Murray on tenor and balto! saxophones, Moppa Elliott on bass and Dan Monaghan on drums. The album was recorded live in studio in New Jersey during the summer of 2018, marking Big Five Chord’s fifteen year anniversary as a band. The opener “People Be Talking” has squalls of windy saxophone evoking the title of the album, as the instruments thrust and parry making statements and asking questions. Lundbom's guitar solos over subtle bass and drumming with a quieter neon hued tone that glides through the music in a nimble fashion. There is a slow and guarded opening to “Basic Bitches” before one of the saxophones breaks out to take a raw solo over elastic bass and a bare drum pulse. Honking, burbling and dealing some raw funk, the horn's guttural drawl gives way to the guitar, whose solo develops and builds faster over tight bass and drums, never sounding flashy, yet seriously impressive as he really digs into a deep earthy groove. “Prednisone” shows the band swirling colorfully at medium tempo over a basic beat. After a saxophone probes the setting, Lundbom emerges, employing a much rougher and rockier tone to his guitar than before, using a grinding texture though a cool sounding fusionish solo accompanied by crushing drums and thick bass. One of the jazzier tunes on the album, “Booberonic” has a twin saxophone theme with the horns intertwining in a complex fashion, and the band improvising well with a tight, rippling saxophone solo with guitar comping and bass and drums simmering. Things get a little wilder with the guitar feature, beginning with sharp edged notes and developing through a fast and hard solo that really puts the boot in. “Fussing Blues” is a fast and hard full band free improvisation that is very exciting to hear, with snarling guitar and rending horns really tearing into their sound, reminiscent of the legendary band Last Exit at times. It is a short and sweet, almost punk like performance that is collective improvisation at its thrilling finest. Funky drums and slow saxophones build up “Three Plus” with guitar breaks adding a slinky tone to the proceedings, as the saxophones add fire by climbing in ascending patterns. Lundbom's guitar is slow and patient building to a strong statement of his own, placing each of his notes with care and and developing an epic solo framed by the channel carved by the rhythm team. Harder on the Outside -

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