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Saturday, September 3, 2016

John Lundbom & Big Five Chord – Plays all the Notes & Make the Changes (HotCup, 2016) ****

By Paul Acquaro

John Lundbom & Big Five Chord's Plays all the Notes and Make the Changes are parts three and four of  a series of EP releases that will culminate in a consolidated release this fall. For a quick refresh, you can check in with what Chris Haines wrote about the first two installments.

These two new EPs feature the same line up as before: Jon Irabagon (alto saxophone), Balto Exclamationpoint aka Bryan Murray (tenor saxophone, balto! saxophone, prepared saxophone), Moppa Elliott (bass), Dan Monaghan (drums) and Jon Lundbom (guitar). The group is a powerhouse of ideas and chops, and little of it goes to waste. Plays all the Notes begins with 'Comedy Gold', a no nonsense free jazz explosion featuring an intense wrenching duet between Irabagon and Murray. A solid rendering of Chick Corea's 'Humpty Dumpty' featuring tasty solos from Lundbom and Irabagon, rounds out a half-hour of music that features all the notes while straddling line between modern and free jazz.

On 'MacGuffin' from Makes the Changes, the last of the EPs, some of the cheekiness of Mostly Other People Do the Killing (Elliot's well-known jgroup) pops-up in musical quotes that lie somewhere between 'Salt-Peanuts' and 'Well You Needn't'. The song features a lengthy solo by Lundbom that underscores his deft ability to balance inside and outside playing. The track 'Ghost Tarooo' is an interesting in its construction. Built over a repeating melodic phrase from the saxophone, a whirlpool of melody forms, increasing in velocity until its end.

Over the course of the four EPs, the playing is immaculate, unstrained and accessible.