Third album from punk/funk/jazz trio and Jazz on 3 regulars The Hub.
Ian Latham 2003
New York based trio The Hub are out to defy jazz conventions. They thrust their thrash metal and long hair into a scene which is ripe for a shake up.
It's a band at the very fringes of what we accept as jazz; indeed, it's only really alto player Dan Magaywho provides any jazz substance with his free form soloing. Electric bass player Tim Dahl alternates between pure and distorted tones as he lays down lines that draw from funk and punk. Drummer Sean Noonan seems most content when he's making a lot of noise, thumping on his kick drum and imitating machine guns on his snare. This band shows that it's quite easy to challenge jazz norms, but much more difficult to do it with intelligence and sophistication. The Hub might succeed with the former, but they fall short of the latter.
The Hub are strongly reminiscent of the cult Belgian band Aka Moon. They share the same line-up, and both alto players are reminiscent of Steve Coleman. Although The Hub are tight and confident, they are technically light years behind Aka Moon's advanced polymetric concept and extraordinary range of influence. Curiously, both bands also play with an arrogance which insists that they are somehow 'future of the music'. It's an attitude which is at best naïve. Both bands, in their own way, lead the way to a dead end, a path of narrow appeal and ultimate obscurity.
Trucker is an album of original compositions by Dahl and Noon, which typically juxtapose deliberately simple, inane melodies with aggressively thrashy sections. The writing is certainly the weakest link in this music; after listening to the album a few times, you start to dread the annoying tunes. All of the compositions are in four and the phrases are clumsily square.
There is an overdependence on unison writing between the alto and bass, and most of the drum lines are unimaginative and monotonous. It's curious that sax man Magay hasn't contributed any compositions for the album, as he demonstrates a more highly developed sense of phrasing in his soloing. The band are strongest in the improvised sections, with the players complementing each others maniacal energy with genuine communication and empathy.
It's always welcome to find a band that are not following the crowd and really doing their own thing. There's no denying that The Hub have developed a distinctive band sound. The trouble is, the quality of their music really isn't high enough to lift them above being anything other than a novelty and a curiosity.