This two-CD set highlights this multifarious quintet's performances at the Berkeley, CA, jazz spot known as Beanbenders. The first CD, titled Day of the Dead (which includes a special video track), was recorded on November 1, 1998, while the second CD, titled Lady Luck Strikes Again, signifies the band's final live performance due to bassist/pianist Ben Lindgren's untimely passing. Yet this outing serves as an all-inclusive portraiture of the group's seamless melding of worldly percussion, horns, and stringed instruments into a free-flowing modus operandi. For example, tenor saxophonist Henry Kuntz also uses a Nepalese bamboo flute and a Mexican hollow-log violin to coincide with his associates' employment of trumpets, gongs, ukuleles, and much more. A multitasking machine indeed, as the artists meld jingling and jangling sounds to complement a sequence of emotively conveyed, avant-garde frameworks. They explore alien dreamscapes and multicultural statements. And while a good deal of the music is framed around improvisations, the instrumentalists invoke a rather indefinable aura that is better left to the individual listener's imagination. But this is not easy listening/world music-type fare. It's partly about bridging the gap between dissonance and melody amid contrasting tonalities and odd-metered pulses.
AllMusic Review by Glenn Astarita
Track Listing - Disc 2