A notable addition to alto saxophonist Jones’ already impressive discography.
Kevin Le Gendre 2011-11-02
It’s easy to miss the dedication tucked in among the credits on the back of the sleeve but it’s worth noting nonetheless. New York-based alto saxophonist Darius Jones thanks George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic for "giving a young black kid the option to be funky and strange(r)". Casual observers might think that there is a marked discrepancy between Clinton’s electric, highly layered baroque productions and Jones’ acoustic, at times ascetic trio, but there is nonetheless a real connection insofar as he also combines fantasia sounds and lateral thinking.
The most striking example here is Chasing the Ghost, in which he channels some of the laser-guided fire he has previously displayed in groups such as the noisy, thrashy, punk-jazz combo Little Women into a climactic arrangement which successively notches up energy levels. It starts as a brisk shuffle then accelerates into a tougher, taut swing over which the leader turns his original snake charmer melody into a shower of curt, drilling, brick hard phrases before drummer Jason Nazary and bassist Adam Lane simmer down into a half-time backbeat that struts to the finishing line.
Regardless of his nod to Clinton, Jones shows that the other historical line that can be drawn from funkiness to strangeness is the way that heavy, raggedy 30s blues inspired 60s and 70s avant-gardists like Albert Ayler and Julius Hemphill, whose spirit looms large here. What Jones has done is take their work as a jumping off point and brought a more broken, off-centre rhythmic slant to many of his arrangements, so that the drums drag teasingly behind the bass as if they had been cut up by a hip hop producer intent on producing extreme tension by playful contrasts of pulse. Ol’ Metal-Faced Bastard is the best example of this, and, as the title suggests, a dark menace pervades the track to evoke the wild ways of Ol’ Dirty Bastard, a post-Clinton headbanger who was strange(r) and funkier than most.
Following 2009’s Mannish Boy and this year’s duet with Matthew Shipp, Cosmic Lieder, this is a notable addition to Jones’ impressive discography.