When one thinks of lounge music, it is of atmospheric background sounds from the early '60s that are considered so worthless by late-'90s listeners that LPs of the style can often be located for 39 cents at used record stores. The Lounge Art Ensemble, a co-op trio consisting of tenor saxophonist Bob Sheppard, bassist Dave Carpenter, and drummer Peter Erskine, thinks of lounge music as jazz played in small clubs, but the "lounge" title does not really do their music justice. In reality, this "lounge art" is a quiet but fairly adventurous version of cool-toned bop. Erskine is heard playing a very small drum set; Carpenter often shares the melody and much of the solo space with Sheppard, and the dozen "originals" are all based on common chord changes (à la Lennie Tristano), mostly of bop standards. The versatile bassist is really the key to the trio, for he functions as both a second melody instrument and a second rhythm instrument, even sounding a bit like a rhythm guitar on the humorously titled "I Hear a Rap CD" (based on "I Hear a Rhapsody"). Throughout the date, the three musicians work together quite well (Bob Sheppard is an underrated great), and they create exciting music that makes one wish the group were more accurately titled "the Anti-Lounge Art Ensemble".
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow