Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ches Smith & These Arches Hammered

"Hammered" most of us have been there once or twice.

Chess Smith has the somewhat enviable task of beating things with sticks. Drums, percussion, and vibraphone finds Smith with the enviable task of working not only as a solo percussionist but in and with experimental solo settings not to forget experimental rock bands as well as small and large jazz ensembles. 2012 found Smith working on the ECM monster release by Tim Berne entitled Snake Oil.

Chess Smith & These Arches finds the release of Hammered a pseudo-ambient style of post progressive jazz with Tim Berne on alto sax, Tony Malaby on tenor sax, Mary Halvorson on guitar and Andrea Parkins on accordion and electronics with of course Ches Smith rounding out the rhythm section and with his own unique brand of sonic fury.

A wonderfully arranged work of all original recordings highlights both Berne and Malaby at their very best. Deconstructed melodies with such unique instrumentation as Andrea Parkins on accordion along with her ambient touch on the opening tune "Frisner."Call it what you will, free jazz or experimental this is music with an intense sense of harmonic urgency. "Wilson Phillip" is another of what I prefer calling a deconstructed keen melodic fury. "Hammered" while being the title track, is an organic heart beat from the musical soul. There is an exciting synergy that allows each number to take flight on its own. Mary Halvorson holds the rhythm section together well or at time better than I have heard in years. Berne and Malaby play as though they were twin sons of different from different mothers.

There are a great many "experimental" drummers working the scene right now, Ches Smith could easily lay claim as to being one of the very best and brightest of the new kids on the block. Playing with a rhythmic sense of urgency, Smith welcomes you to the land of rhythm and pleasure. This particular outing from Ches Smith should score huge points with the more free jazz aficionado and hopefully snag a few new followers as well.

4 out of 5 Stars.

Tracks: Frisner; Wilson Phillip; Dead Battery; Hammered; Limitations; Learned From Jamie Stewart; Animal Collection; This Might Be A Fade Out.

Personnel: Tim Berne: alto saxophone; Tony Malaby: tenor saxophone; Mary Halvorson: guitar; Andrea Parkins: accordion & electronics; Ches Smith: drums.