November 28, 2000
Possessed by more enthusiasm than finesse, the New York-based M.O.B. Trio comes across as the perfect modernist ensemble able to enliven any small jazz club without ever pandering or insulting an audience's intelligence.
Unfortunately, what works over the course of an evening can appear less memorable when hit by the laser of a CD player. LOOSE indubitably flashes by with solid, well-played sounds. It's just that there's very little on it that couldn't come from a clutch of similar "downtown" bands.
Biggest disappointment here is drummer Matt Wilson. A lively technician who leads his own highly praised quartet, his skills have also added to the success of discs by improvisers as varied as Cecil McBee, Dewey Redman and Charlie Kohlhase. Here though, he seems to do little more than literally mark time.
Wilson may be a frustrating, but tenor saxophonist Ohad Talmor is the group's weakest link. Working with altoman Lee Konitz may have helped solidify his sometimes alto-like tenor tone, but he doesn't seem to know what to do with it. Worse still, the major riff that defines his solo on "Slinky" appears to be the theme of Charles Mingus' "Boogie Stop Shuffle," while his solo on "Compulsion", sounds as if it's built around another Mingus move: "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat." Quotes should be the springboard for improvisation, not their bedrock.
Third M.O.B.ster, Bob Bowen, has a sturdy enough bass style, but again no sparks fly from his fingers. Additionally, while his "Slog," may be an solid hunk of funk that could rouse any audience with its bar-walking tenor, sonorous percussive bass tones and piledriver percussion, does someone really have to keep grunting throughout as if he's just discovered a fast-acting laxative?
"Slog", a denigrating title if there ever was one, illuminates another drawback here. Each of the nine tunes on the CD is written by a band member. Little more than skeletons for soloing, and equally gracelessly titled, none gives the impression that it has a life outside of this disc. Next time out, recasting standards, as Wilson has done on his own CDs may be more useful.
Taken together, it appears that this trio needs more seasoning and more concrete ideas for a real recording session. Maybe this M.O.B. should turn to one of the music's Godfather's for additional guidance.
Track Listing: 1. Slinky 2. Yurname 3.Compulsion 4. Slog 5. S.A.D. 6. Proxy 7. Surround 8. Denis & Dilek 9. Funk Assembly
Personnel: Ohad Talmor (tenor saxophone); Bob Bowen (bass); Matt Wilson (drums)