Tuesday, September 3, 2013

John Funkhouser Still Jazsyzygy 2013


A dynamic lyrical sense of urgency transforming the potentially mundane piano trio into a whirling dervish of sound and light.
Brent Black / www.bop-n-jazz.com

Still will be officially hitting the streets on Sept. 12th. Improvisational pianist and composer John Funkhouser reinvents the all too predictable piano trio into a sonic exploratory of sound ranging from the adventures of the Funkhouser house cat to high octane take on the Monk classic "Little Rootie Tootie." Having seen such arbitrary tags such as "intelligent" and "progressive" there is no doubt that labels are best left for cans of soup. Funkhouser is a fixture on the Boston scene but far from the a-typical potted plant you find making the odd side trip to the Big Apple for a nice paying gig. A leader, an A list sideman, and a well respected professor at the Berklee College of Music has this pianist releasing a master class in lyrical flow, harmonic changes, and open ended creativity all on a shiny silver disc!

Back story and liner notes are key for this slight eclectic work featuring "Indigo Montoya's Great Escape" which is the whimsical tale of the Funkhouser feline's desire to bounce when the opportunity presents itself. The virtual cat like percussive pop of this tune is the perfect melodic vehicle when imaging this event occurring in real time. Covering a Monk tune by any pianist is a daunting task to be sure, throwing caution not to mention harmonic sensibilities to the wind we find Funkhouser banging out one of the premier covers of "Little Rootie Tootie." Another Funkhouser original that were it not for appropriate credit might seem like a Monk or Bud Powell rarity is "Shakedown." A syncopated exploratory of rhythmic intensity, this is perhaps the Funkhouser wheelhouse. While still not sure on the reharm of "House of the Rising Sun" this release is far too strong to split critical hairs on a tune I never found favor with from the very beginning. The additions of Phil Sargent on guitar and vocalist Aubrey Johnson elevate a real deal trio to a new level...For the professor, an A for effort!

Tracks: Indigo Montoya's Great Escape; House of the Rising Sun; The Deep; My Romance; Little Rootie Tootie; Leda; Shakedown; Still.

Personnel: John Funkhouser: Piano; Greg Loughman: Bass; Mike Connors: Drums; Phil Sargent: Guitar (3,5,8); Aubrey Johnson: Voice (3,6).