Yes, there is a Boston scene, and the only reason you don't know about it is, the New York or the L.A. newspapers (or ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT) haven't yet got around to it. It'll be hard to enumerate the Boston music cauldron when they do, because so few of the artists have like signifiers. Think of the monolithic post-rock intellectuals in Cul de Sac, think of the mind-melding completists in Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, think of the scrappy situational serialists in Urban Ambience. And then there's this killer-virtuoso bass player I used to know who formed a calypso band... oh, yes, and Gypsy Schaeffer, who have zip codes in common with the above lot and not much more. But that's OK: as with the Founding Fathers, individuality is tolerated. Celebrated, even. All the more reason for Boston to be so delightfully scattershot.
Gypsy Schaeffer (Ed Perez, bass; Chris Punis, drums; Joel Yennior, trombone; Andy Voelker, alto sax) have a strong link to the dance bands of the swing era in the highly traditional air of their tunes ("What's The Deal?", leading off this CD, might well have been or might yet be a barnburner on the level of Lionel Hampton's "Flying Home" or the Duke's "Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue"). Simple head, very rhythmic, body language on the 'bop and groove' setting, and the 'big front line' of Yennior and Voelker duplicating the firepower of a larger force. Somehow. It's all in the delivery. "Joisey Boys Shuffle" has a more meditative cast but waxes equally infectious. Jitterbugging lessons in the lobby at eight, folks. And when they try something theoretically 'out' like "Turning Point" (a certain Ornette flavor on that one) the move has a very cohesive feel, as if one had to play it this way or it wouldn't make sense. Art is arbitrary, most of the time. I do admit this. The only problem wiith art's general arbitraryness is, some listeners make the mistake that it has to be. When art smacks of inevitability --that is, all other paths are rendered superfluous thanks to some dimension of the performance -- listeners may get antsy. I think what they're really saying when they get antsy is, "Why'd you have to play it like that? There's no room for speculation." But there are folks who really aren't into "what if they'd done it the other way?" Those often are the ones who like music that's more intellectually stimulating, like, oh I don't know, Morton Feldman's "Patterns In A Chromatic Field." Gypsy Schaeffer might well answer by asserting, "Wasn't no other way." As could be said for the nightclub in New Orleans that the band is named for, where one first noticed the advent of Jelly Roll Morton. 'Nuff said.
Further exhibition of the principle of "Wasn't no other way" may be found on Andy Voelker's "De-Training," a nod to an early Coltrane jam ditty that drinks deep of a certain jump-band liqueur. Volker and Yennior trade fours with Perez in a bouncy mode the like of which you may not have experienced in some time.
Yes, more modernist influences do leap in, such as "Who's for Edward?", but one still, in the way these wild heads are played and elaborated on, that Artie Shaw might have got around to it eventually. Probably because the accent throughout here is on 'fun.' Remember 'fun'? Here's a smidge, so roll up that rug and let Ed Perez 'walk' you across that floor with some lines worthy of Paul Chambers.
Very cool. -
by Kenneth Egbert
New Sounds - September 2004
Jazz Now Interactive September 2004 Vol 14 No. 5 - Table of Contents