Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord: Accomplish Jazz (2009)
There is a refreshing, albeit immediate, sense of naïveté about the music of guitarist Jon Lundbom. As the music progresses, however, it becomes evident that Lundbom wears this almost childlike wonder as a rather thin mask, belying a graceful sophistication that marks an apparent determination to go beyond the mere skin of sound. This is eminently clear on Accomplish Jazz, an album with a quirky title that appears to thumb its nose at those who put labels such as "mainstream," jazz and "funk" on music. To do this and make music that is so on-the-mark as far as tone and color goes is quite an achievement.
Lundbom's guitar provides the lyrical lead voice in his tonal labyrinthine blanket, meandering in and out of horizontal and vertical acoustics as he extrapolates on complex and interesting melodies. He uses a crooning voice to begin his songs before taking off into stellar regions, as far as his musical journey will logically take him. This is not to be confused with "playing the math," but rather like the inventions of Fred Frith = 12360}; the result is almost magical.
Lundbom furthers the cause of his songs with layer upon layer of harmony, provided by two distinct ranges of hornsalto and tenor. When soloing, these instruments are almost like adding a cross-hatching technique to the storied pictures that Lundbom's music paints. Alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon is a virtuoso who uses fleet fingering to create waves of deeply etched harmonics on "Truncheon" and "Tick-Dog." Bryan Murray overlays the sharp tones of Irabagon's saxophone with his dry and gruff tenor, masterfully creating shadowy indentations to Lundbom's lines and block chords as well as underscoring Irabagon's alto on "Phoenetics."
The two saxophonists could not be more different in their approach to harmonic displays. Irabagon is deliberately comical, playing tumbling jester to Murray's deeply orchestral stoicism. Then there is the interplay between Lundbom and bassist Matthew "Moppa" Elliott,, whose rich harmonies sometimes run parallel to the guitarist's on tracks including "The Christian Life," while elsewhere on "Phoenetics" and "Baluba, Baluba," he offers his point of view in wide counterpoint to Lundbom.
Lundbom has also found a fine, melodic drummer in Danny Fischer, who is also a very gifted rhythmic colorist. Together with "Moppa," Fischer creates a sturdy rhythmic sheet song-after-song, with an innate ability to find the music's pulse.
Accomplish Jazz may be the album that takes Lundbom & Big Five Chord to the next level, one that moves beyond the realm of experimentation into music that is distinct and shows a clear sense of direction in the swelling flood of the new avant-garde; one that seems aligned to the conceptions of the likes of classical composer Karlheinz Stockhausen.
Track Listing: Truncheon; Phoenetics; The Christian Life; Tick-Dog; Baluba, Baluba.
Personnel: Jon Lundbom: guitar; Jon Irabagon: alto saxophone; Bryan Murray: tenor saxophone; Matthew "Moppa" Elliott: bass; Danny Fischer: drums.