David Tronzo

Crunch

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Hardly a simplistic effort, this trio -- with Tronzo on slide guitars, Granelli on bass and Epstein on saxophones -- is making music that is not only original in nature, but unique in its sonic soundprint due to the instrumentation. It's modern creative jazz but defies pigeonholing beyond that. There are a series of improvisations titled "Thing": "Thing #2" is a 4/4 Afro-centric groove vehicle with jungle drum sounds (there is no percussionist credited) and mbira overtones; "#8" is a mantra chant that is again, percussive in nature; "#6" features the musicians completely free-feeding off one another's notions, merging into a beat; and "#12" starts off loose with Tronzo's slide easing to pensive call-and-response and a melodic, meditational end. With the players at their most developed and intricate, "Thing #4" has a slow, steady beat and shrapnel melody, steel drum-type percussion sounds (from the bass?), and industrial rhythm under Epstein's gently weeping or softly howling soprano. The equally complex "Long Blue Dream" goes through many changes and phases, from stark unison phrases to haunting refrains and ostinato bass setting up Tronzo's bluesy slide -- a heavy music experiment to be sure. Beats of five and six alchemize on the sorrowful slide and piquant soprano sax during "Cumulus," while Epstein's alto opens chattering discourse on the shortie "I'm Not Crazy." The three evoke a slow kind of New Orleans/country/heavy-on-the-wah-wah-contrafunk with "Dance of the Hillbilly Robots," and go for soft-toned cerebrality in "Foo." All in all, this recording is an incomparable event, uncompromising in scope, vision, and depth. A promising first effort for this trio, with vast potential ahead.

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