I remember reading (on this blog) the review of Kris Davis's Rye Eclipse, it immediately struck me as an album that was a must to hear. And so when seeing that her husband and drummer Jeff Davis was bringing out his own album I was immediately fascinated to hear the results. Jeff Davis is involved with so many interesting projects and groups such as Matthew Bourne, Michael Bates Outside Sources, Jon Irabagon's Outright, Eivind Opsvik's Overseas ...... and the list goes on! Here it seems Jeff Davis has brought all these experiences together into his compositions and group concept. We find frantic free playing, Bitches Brew styled grooves, tight ensemble work and great melodies. The opening track Bruce and Brunost Suite immediately jumps out of the speakers with all of the above qualities, Kris Davies playing a fender rhodes (through pedals) and the ever inventive Jon Goldberger on guitar provide amazing soundscapes for the various solos to evolve, eventually becoming something of a post Bitches Brew ambience of brooding menace.
Tracks such as Talk to Me develop from small but beautiful ideas (trumpet and piano) into full blown free scrummage(*) whilst Black Beard, another hard hitter, starts with a subtle drum solo moving into a tight ensemble melody over a hypnotic bass ostinato, Jon Goldberger's guitar sound and distorted solo add to the whole and saxophonist Tony Barba plays like there's no tomorrow. There are gentler moments such as Waltz , Fred Ullman and the strange closer We Sleep Outside, however much of the album bubbles with energy such as Slipper Hero with it's trumpet/sax battle section and ominous rubato melody line.
In fact there is so much inventive playing and writing on this album that it's difficult to believe at first, and yet the album manages to keep up the quality and consistency throughout whereas many such records end up being a variety of musical approaches that end up loosing their listener. This is a record for all those who enjoy their music left of centre, inside and out, swinging and grooving.
Personnel: Jeff Davis: drums, percussion; Eivind Opsvik: upright bass; Jon Goldberger: guitar; Kris Davis: piano, Fender Rhodes piano; Tony Barba: tenor and soprano saxophone, clarinet; Kirk Knuffke: trumpet.
(*) A Scrum for anyone interested is the word used in rugby for the pack of players fighting over the ball.
Buy from Instantjazz.