Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

An Auspicious Trio Show and a Rewardingly Surreal Album From the Protean Brandon Seabrook

Brandon Seabrook is one of the most fascinatingly mutable guitarists in jazz. He can be competely feral and unhinged one minute – notably with his wryly named Seabrook Power Plant – and then hit the stage and play gorgeously and lyrically in Cecile McLorin Salvant’s band. He’s playing what could be a similarly lyrical gig with the Sexmob rhythm section, Tony Scherr on bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums at Bar Lunatico on Jan 23 at 9 PM.

In keeping with Seabrook’s unpredictable nature, one of his most outside-the-box recent albums is In the Swarm, a trio session with Cooper-Moore on diddley bow and Gerald Cleaver on drums, streaming at Bandcamp. This is the second they’ve done together. Parts of it are a strange and often deliciously noisy theme and variations, sometimes akin to Flowers of Romance-era PiL without the vocals.

They open with the title track. Cleaver lays down a hypnotic, shamanic beat, somebody sends a whistling electronic tone through the mix and Seabrook enters jaggedly on banjo. From there, Cooper-Moore’s loping, muted bassline anchors the forward drive as Cleaver edges outward and the bandleader squirrels around. They take it out on an unexpectedly ambient note.

The second number is Subliminal Gaucheries (Seabrook is good with titles). Spare, sparkling, mobile-like figures linger amid an ambient lustre as Cleaver makes his way in with a quieter, more suspenseful, shamanic pulse. Seabrook dives into orange-flame, distorted skronk and ugly close harmonies before hitting his envelope pedal for an icy warp in Vibrancy Yourself: it wouldn’t be out of place in Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog catalog.

How nocturnal is Crepuscule of Cleaver? It’s not. The rhythm section run a tight but lithe variation on the opening rhythm as Seabrook chooses his spots to squall. The diddley bow is an intriguing texture, somewhere between the growl of an electric bass and the low-midrange pop of a sintir in Adrenaline Charters, Seabrook bowing long sustained tones and then plunking out steady circularities on banjo.

Seething Excitations lives up to its title, Seabrook rising from an ominously distant tremolo to a more cumulo-nimbus attack as Cleaver builds a slowly cantering groove. They wind it out atmospherically.

The album’s big ten-minute epic is Aghastitude, Seabrook flinging out echoes of twangy surf over smoke-off-the-battlefield sonics, then Cleaver gets the waves going with his cymbals as the stringed instruments grow more frenetic. Flickers, skronk and icepick runs from Seabrook figure in from there. They close with a tantalizingly grimy minute-long miniature.

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January 21, 2023 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment