Nothing like a compelling back story to make a good record even better but that really isn't the case here. Rick Drumm and Fatty Necrroses and their latest Return From The Unknown can stand on its own merit as an outstanding modern jazz fusion release simply brought up to speed. The back story here is inspirational as this recording marks the milestone and triumph of a cancer survivor and the celebration of his friends and family. Far too often "the business" takes a bad rap for simply trying to do what we do in our everyday life - turn a profit, make a better life, live to fight another day and this is what Rick Drumm has done. 25% of all proceeds from this release will be donated to Strike A Chord (*).
Rick Drumm is the rarest of musicians that also just happens to be heading up D'Addario & Company, a leading manufacturer of strings. Lucky is the individual whose passion is his work and vice verse. Return From The Unknown is an incredibly personal somewhat auto-biographical look through music at his battle with cancer and coming to grips with his own mortality. As a survivor of the same non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and at roughly the same age, the musical irony here was not lost but instead fueled my own passion to explore a work that is exemplary at every turn. Fusion is somewhat of a catch all phrase for modern jazz recorded or influenced by anything that pre-dates 1985 or is not easily shoehorned into the smooth jazz radio format. Modern spatial grooves, ambient textures and harmonic inventiveness are the calling cards on a release that hearkens one back to the days of Return To Forever or perhaps Weather Report.
The ambient feel capture on Return From The Unknown is a somewhat sonic representation of Drumm's personal journey at a time when nothing was certain other then the desire to complete this project. Aside from the more textured feel there is a more wistful ballad "Not Whatever" and a smoldering groove of "Detours"which is eventually kicked up about three sonic notches as compared to the more corporate sounding modern jazz of today. A personal favorite "Pulled Pork Sandwich" is the musical equivalent of a Brecker Brothers flashback but again...advanced to a more modern twist. "Return" is an emotionally engaging piece with an evolving theme that reoccurs six times, with each drum solo a representation of Drumm's emotional roller coaster while attacking six rounds of chemo.
Return From The Unknown while carrying a great deal of personal meaning to Drumm is not an ominous look at mortality but instead a musical celebration and sonic description of the feelings and emotions we all face when a friend, loved one, or as individual are forced to come to grips with cancer on virtually any level.
Jazz suffers from paralysis by analysis. Fusion, modern jazz, jazz-rock, prog-rock...what's in a name?
Rick Drumm and The Fatty Necroses Band have given us a musical gift - an extended jam session that should indeed be shared.
* Twenty-five percent of the CD's proceeds go toward "Strike A Chord,"a non-profit that provides musical instruments and music lessons to children with life-threatening illnesses. http://www.strikeachordforchildren.org
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Tracks: Fatty Necrosis Sings The Blues; Gentle Spirit; Indi Funk; Not Whatever; Detours; Pulled Pork Sandwich; Out The Door; Just A Drop; Return.
Personnel: Rick Drumm: drums; Fred Hamilton: guitar; Corey Christiansen:guitar; John Benitez: bass; Axel Tosca Laugart: piano; Frank Catalano: saxophone; Mike Brumbaugh: trombone; Pete Grimaldi: trumpet.