Nostalgia 77, (aka Benedic Lamdin) has been delving deeply into jazz since 2007's rightfully celebrated Everything Under the Sun. On subsequent albums, he has explored many of its sub-genres, from hard bop to progressive (Weapons of Jazz Destruction), to its vanguard (Sessions, Vol. 1 with Keith and Julie Tippett), to pop-styled vocal crossover (Sleepwalking Society). The Taxidermist grew out of various experimental notions that dealt with peeling the skin away from various jazz styles and structures, hollowing them out, and inserting others before restitching their skins. He communicated this to bassist Riann Vosloo, who composed all but one cut here. The band includes regular collaborators drummer Tim Giles, Ross Stanley on B-3, Rhodes, and piano, James Allsopp on reeds, and trumpeter Fulvio Sigurta. Also in the lineup are pianist Matthew Bourne and percussionist Noda Fernandez. The title track flirts with spacy jazz-funk à la Herbie Hancock's Sextant and Miles Davis' Tribute to Jack Johnson, and the gorgeous modal horn charts on Wayne Shorter's Super Nova and Lee Morgan's Sixth Sense, yet continues to bubble along with a circular rhythm throughout. Edgy Latin rhythms populate several tunes on this set including "The "Ignored" and "Sunrise in Mexico" though they are not "Latin jazz" tunes per se. In fact, the former is a modal jazz number while the latter, with its stretched Hammond groove, suggests Larry Young's Of Love and Peace. In "The Last Few Days," the slow, deliberate, balladic head by Sigurta and Allsopp gives way to both pianos playing compelling counterpoint, and rolling snares with shimmering hi-hats accenting a taut, knotty bassline. The post-bop architecture is offset by a lovely songlike melody that is nearly hummable. The lone cover here, Sun Ra's "Angels and Demons at Play," commences with an Afro-Cuban drum kit groove accompanied only by trumpet. Halfway through, organ, electric guitar, bass, hand percussion, and tenor saxophone move it into its own galactic funk sphere with Ra's sense of humor intact. The warm, rounded, straight-ahead ballad "By the Light of Your Eyes" that closes it out is all blues. While the album falls under Nostalgia 77's moniker (Lamdin arranged, produced, and engineered the set), Vosloo deserves equal credit for his stunning compositions. The Taxidermist references numerous chapters in jazz's history after 1955. That said, it integrates them in a 21st century musical language that is holistic and accessible while remaining fully exploratory.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek