Chamaeleo Vulgaris Group

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Sometimes, bizarre takes on the jazz tradition fall flat on their faces. Somehow, this fascinating collective manages to continually allure as its warped views of composition defy categorization. On its face, the instrumentation is not so unusual: tenor saxophone, electric guitar, electric bass, cello, two drums, and sampler. The musicians join in varied combinations for eighteen miniatures that explore and contrast tones, noise, and rhythm. The results are hardly coherent, but each track leaves the listener waiting anxiously for the next. Silence intermingles with ambient abstraction and sonic bombs, while an occasional tenor sax solo (from Bertrand Denzler) erupts. These fellows know how to use space and quiet so the swirls of elongated clusters take on added impact. Almost operatic in scope, this is one whose joys lie beneath the surface.

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