I love these guys...
Jazz has lost its way to a certain extent. Soul, passion and the lifestyle that is, can be and for some was straight ahead jazz is but a forgotten memory. Jazz Punks are making things right or at least better with a grip it and rip it attitude combined with chops to burn on their latest offering Smashups! This is be bop with attitude, Dizzy Gillespie on steroids with a Miles Davis chaser. The pseudo-intellectual jazz elite that looks at traditional jazz as some sort of indirect indicator of an individuals i.q. will promptly stroke upon first listen. Easily a critic and not to mention a record labels worst nightmare, Jazz Punks take their compelling hard bop chops and the more defiant attitude of a really good garage band and fuse the two for a compelling look at where hard bop just might be heading.
From a purely stylistic p.o.v. these guys are all over the place and while that would normally kill an act, it is their off beat all most satirical sense of musical humor that seems to bring everything together nicely. Only the guitarist is plugged in with the other ensemble members working without an electrical net so as to take the music to a different level while maintaining the more traditional old school approach.
Musical whimsy run wild. Two personal favorites on this most entertaining of releases are "I Can See Miles" which is of course a delicious riff off the classic Who tune "I Can See For Miles" and "Led Gillespie" which is an unbelievable hybrid of Led Zeppelin's "Misty Mountain Hop" with the Dizzy tune "A Night In Tunisia." These two particular tunes are packed with emotion, vitality and a harmonic freedom of movement normally only found in the free jazz forms found in certain areas of New York City. Re-harming the melodies seems to add to an inner core that has always been hidden in literally all four tunes but not brought forth in the most expressive of possibilities till now. This is jazz not for the faint of heart as the ensemble journeys to the darker side of hard bop with "Creep Train" which is an incredible riff from Radiohead's "Creep" and "Paranoid Android" to make an effortless blend with the iconic Duke Ellington tune "Take The A Train."
Jazz Punks and their latest offering Smashups do not just think outside the box, they play outside the box and in a rather bizarre zen like twist they actually become the box. Other bands have in fact tried this approach with some being smart enough to realize they only had chops enough for one maybe two tunes at best. Jazz Punks are taking the hard bop road less traveled, charting their own musical course and at the same time creating a unique and stylized musical voice that I for one hope we hear much more from!
Tracks: Foleo; Clash Up; Creep Train; Mind Over Matter; HeavyFoot; Bo-So; I Can See Miles; Little Chickens; 12 Steps To Hell; Led Gillespie.
Personnel: Sal Polcino: guitar; Hugh Elliott: drums; Robby Elfman: saxophone; Danny Kastner: piano; Michael Polcino: bass.