Chris Lightcap

Bigmouth

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Unlike labels that pigeonhole their up-and-coming performers, Fresh Sound New Talent gives emerging artists a free hand to find structures that best express their own voices. On bassist Chris Lightcap's Bigmouth, he draws on two players from a contemporaneous Fresh Sound release, fellow bassist Eivind Opsvik's Overseas. Yet even with drummer Gerald Cleaver anchoring both sessions and Tony Malaby contributing hard-hitting tenor to each, the recordings differ greatly. Unlike the dark impressionistic fusion of Opsvik's date, Lightcap draws on the influence of Ornette Coleman and his vision of bop pushed to the emotional edge. The tunes "Celebratorial" and the aptly titled "Loopy" sound like pages ripped from the Ornette playbook. The paired tenors of Malaby and Bill McHenry (another Fresh Sound regular) make for a powerful front line, which Lightcap exploits to the maximum on "Neptune," where the two hornmen go head to head in an updated version of the tenor battle. Showing he's hip to current trends, though, Lightcap inserts a cover of the Beatles' "Dig a Pony" in the middle of the recital, a surprise at first, but rendered to blend with the rest of the program. Lightcap and Cleaver, who gets to exercise his free-within-the-groove delivery, make for a formidable rhythm team. Lightcap grounds the ensemble with pedal points and declamatory countermelodies. His solos lean toward folk song-like lyricism. (Interestingly, as different as he and Opsvik are as composers and bandleaders, they answer to similar muses on bass.) This is a forward-looking session that does something old-fashioned -- it cooks.

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