Dean Laabs

Invisible Maniac

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Invisible Maniac is creative jazz of the electric kind, but don't dare utter the words "fusion" or "funky" to these cats. They're serious musicians. Bassist and guitarist Jeff Song and trumpeter (as well as EVI player) Dean Laabs are composers who are interested in the knotty, post-classical side of jazz and the post-jazz side of classical, and the manner in which improvisation bridges the gap, allegedly. Along with cellist and keyboardist Matt Turner, percussionist John Mettam, and alternate keyboardist Dan Stein, they create an alternate universe that roughs out a corner of the rock for jazz amidst progressive rock notions of tempo and phrasing, and postmodern Euro jazz, with its angular harmonics and strident attacks on dynamic and drama. Of the ten tracks here, the most interesting are "Lusty Ed," with its movement on a line from Coleman's "Lonely Woman" and a famous flamenco tune. Turner's cello is the texturing and driving factor here, slipping around the rhythmic accents by Mettam and the ostinato bassline from Song. Also compelling is the spacious and thoroughly weird balladry of Stein's "The Canal," with its swirling keyboard lines, nearly subharmonic bass, and glissandi cymbal work of Mettam. It's a ballad that resonates with all things sinister. There are problems with this recording, but they're small mainly having to do with ambition. Who can blame people for that, right? The bottom line is that this group has the ideas and the ability, and if this record misses in places, it hits hard in others.

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