Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Jazz Combustion Uprising, Self-Immolation

I remember at Berklee my first two roommates were as different as could be. One, with whom I got along with well, was a real jazz player and we had much to share in our enthusiasms for Mingus, McLean and Miles. The other was into rock and perhaps not as cognisant of the jazz element. We used to rib him about it and he finally came back with...a Fats Navarro album! Why Fats is a long story but we approved.

I think of this because on the Jazz Combustion Uprising Album Self-Immolation (self-released) that is up for discussion today the most fetching theme "Bike Lanes (Coming)" could be the first several bars of a Fats Navarro solo. They do something with it--including lyrics and a vocal part--that sticks in the mind but I go back and remember Fats as I've been hearing this CD over the past week, and so remember that roommate too.

No matter. The point perhaps to be gained is that the group Jazz Combustion Uprising has a good sense of roots and still manages to get fresh sounds going. It's a Frisco-based unit of Henry Hung on trumpet, Grant Levin, piano, Andrew Ryan on drums, David "Elaine" Alt on saxophones, and Kenny Annis on bass. There are several guests including vocalist Alicia Bell for "Bike Lanes".

I dig the tunes here, which embody bop and post-bop with a flair. And the soloists are hipply into the roots--Henry Hung gets some wonderful sounds that recall, yes, maybe a little Fats and those that have come after. He has a beautiful tone and chooses well between notes. The same could be said for pianist Grant Levin. Elaine Alt sounds effective as well in a post-Bird mode, sometime pretty post-, too! The rhythm team chugs along nicely. It swings.

So when old school gets done this well, with all the fire and creativity that you have to have to make this work...all that is there. I won't pretend I know what the Mid-Eastern/North African theme is about here and so I won't comment on that.

This is good grooving bop-and-after with some real players. That's all you need to know.

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