Swim to the River

Broken Things

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Swim to the River Review

by Michael G. Nastos

For those of you familiar with the thriving Chicago post-modern creative music scene, the names of drummer Tim Daisy and bassist Jason Ajemian should be familiar. In the quartet Broken Things, they are rhythmic support for alto saxophonist Greg Ward and electric guitarist Bill MacKay. You might know MacKay for his previous group Sounds of Now. Ajemian and Todd Hill split the bass chores on this program of hip, youth oriented, somewhat jam band-flavored music that while marginally jazz-like on the rhythmic end, has maximum intent in terms of originality. Ward and MacKay play mostly structured melodies within unison lines together, hard edged and with no small degree of forward motion and urgency. While quite similar to the music of Chris Potter, fans of Brad Shepik or Chris Speed's Yeah! No! can easily relate. At their ultimate funkiness, "Doll Mountain Rag" has Daisy's steady clockwork syncopation pushing the frontline instruments, while a quick modern bossa nova turns the tide on "Keep a Secret." The band goes dark and deep more often than not on the slower "Broken Things," the even more deliberate dramatism of "1919 Molasses Tragedy," and black waltz "Water's Edge." The final track, "The Reservoir," depending on your taste, sounds like a ponderous rock knockoff rather than an original work. Still this likely is a small slice of what this group is capable of, and since it is a debut, it's a good beginning for MacKay's and Ward's congenial partnership.

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