Hotel X

Engendered Species

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Loud, noisy, energetic, anarchistic, experimental -- Hotel X had the punk-jazz/Lounge Lizards thing happening back in the early to mid-'90s. Apparently based in Virginia, the band nevertheless had a downtown New York attitude. It wasn't tight or particularly subtle, but Hotel X made up for those qualities with its wide-eyed, take-no-prisoners assault on the small group jazz aesthetic. The band's four core members each contribute tunes to the book, and while not every tune's a masterpiece, there's much imagination and inspiration evident. In addition to the originals, they also have the audacity to attack (and believe me, that's the correct word) tunes by Ornette Coleman and Wayne Shorter, upon which they vent their collectively-improvising spleen to good effect. The originals, however, set the group apart. Guitarist Woody Jackson's "Little Brother Ben" is a slow, loping shuffle -- an altered 12-bar blues with whole-note and chromatic tendencies; saxophonist Tim Harding's riffish "Casa Noir" is funk with elements of early-'70s guitar-based rock; bassist Ron Curry's vamp-based "Georgia" explores poly-tempi and ambiguous tonalities. Led by Jackson and Harding, the soloists are a rough but enthusiastic bunch. While much of the music is loose, on the verge of being sloppy -- intonation is sometimes extremely shaky -- there's a great deal of originality to be found. It's fresh, and that in itself is something to admire.

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