Big Fish Eat Little Fish
Aquarium Records, USA - CD
Are we ready for the next next next Average White Band? Not a question I can answer, but in the continuing search for the Ultimate Jam (see The Necks, Disco Biscuits, Garaj Mahal, Deep Banana Blackout, et al) I think the somewhat more R&B-influenced Chill 7 should be considered a worthy pilgrim as well.
Cheery and insouciant, the quartet plus one (Tom Garrington, drums; Steve Garrington, basses; Mike Burand, guitar; Josh Brinkman, saxes; special guest Mark Ziegenhagen, Hammond organ and piano) finds ample grooves worth digging into and works them ("Hanger Man," "Adult Lounge," and "Red's Bed" after a beguiling slow buildup).
Hard Zieganhagen is all over the place on these bits, chubby Hammond chords lighting up "Hanger Man" no end. Josh Brinkman's fruitful tenor tone, pointed yet wide like Chu Berry's used to be, delights out of all proportion, and the tag team of Steve and Tom G. play those root functions like they own them.
Truth unfortunate, the R&B bands have always put a little too much emphasis on the beat for my taste, but (a) as my oldest likes to say, "That's endemic, Abba; duhhhh..." and (b) I had my rhythmic sense knocked out of whack permanently by Tony Williams and Elvin Jones many decades ago, so that's my problem. Not the Garringtons'.
Of course, if you prefer something a bit more adventurous you might cue up "The Jamf" (a tribute to the infamous Laszlo from Gravity's Rainbow?), more in an impressionistic mode á la recent work of Mark Turner or Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee. A fleet theme arrives on Tom G's nattering cymbals, Josh B catapults into the level of speaking-in-tongues, and we stop on a dime. Very nice.
Or there's the more sedate, peaceful "Traveling Alone," featuring Burand's calmly ellipsoid improv á la Jerry Garcia. As Monty Burns says in The Simpsons when his heart starts pumping again: "Ahhhh... that takes me back." Me too.
Most probably you already know if you will like this, but if you have an inkling that you will, what are you waiting for?
by Ken Egbert
Back to: August 2005 Vol. 15 No. 4 Table of Contents