February 28, 2007
Last Kind Words
Resonant Music 002
More than 25 years after Rock fame or is it infamy? the drummer from Manhattans uncompromising No Wave band, The Bush Tetras, and the saxophonist from Torontos New-Wave hit makers Martha and the Muffins unite for a memorable CD.
Happily Punk Jazz isnt on show from percussionist Dee Pop, reedist Any Haas and string player Don Fiorino possible rocker past unknown but a unique form of Roots Improv. Tunes range from Brother Can You Spare A Dime and the title blues to Walk on Gilded Splinters and Ellingtonia. Haas plays fife, morsing (Jews harp), alto saxophone and electronics, while Fiorino moves among guitar, lap steel, banjo and lotar (Berber lute).
The most effective use of the ethnic instruments comes on Morsing Code. An Africanized jam, the andante end product is percussive and hypnotic, with thick picking from the lotar, rubber-band like twanging from the morsing and cross patterned drum rhythms.
As for roots music, atypical instrumentation and conceptions are transformative not imitative. Melodic saxophone smears face claw-hammer banjo picking on The Mooch while disconnected flams focus the percussion. The basic poignancy of Dime is emphasized in Haas warbling arpeggios as Fiorino alternates guitar frailing and flat picking. A penetrating version of Caravan is all brittle reed trills and knob-twisting electronic whooshes.
Most illustrative, the long version of Last Kind Words eventually recaps the theme, but first features Pops blunt cross sticking and harsh fuzz tones from the guitarist. Electronic extensions allow the saxophonists melismatic flutter-tonguing to intersect contrapuntally with a smooth secondary reed line.
CODA Issue 331