Daniel Bennett Group — Sinking Houseboat Confusion
(Manhattan Daylight, 2016, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2016-12-30
In this age of cynicism, it’s easy to be suspicious of a person who seems very positive. When you meet someone who is all smiles and bubbly attitude, you wonder if they’re hiding something, some ulterior motive that you should watch out for. Maybe that explains my initial reaction to Sinking Houseboat Confusion. This music is bouncy and happy, upbeat and friendly, with hardly so much as a hint of darkness. Is there a secret agenda? A nefarious plan to suck in unsuspecting grandmas only to chuckle sinisterly once their meager savings are in hand? But then I think of a parallel in the world of progressive rock. King Crimson and Van der Graaf are not the only way to go, there’s also Caravan, bouncy and accessible, tuneful and light-hearted. Projecting the range of progressive rock onto jazz, Bennett is definitely on the Caravan side. Tunes like “John Lizard Comes Home,” “Doctor Duck Builds a Patio,” and “Animals Discussing Life Changes” are as whimsical as their titles suggest. But the energetic melodies in major keys and straight-ahead rhythms (more like surf-rock than jazz fusion) are complemented by quirky effects and solid performances that wear down the cynical listener. And there are a couple of curveballs in this pitcher’s repertoire. “We Are OK!” gives the musicians, especially bassist Eddy Khaimovich, a chance to get weird and a bit funky while the rhythm section changes tempo a number of times and Bennett adds atonal piano flourishes. “Little Disappointments of Modern Life” features a spoken poem by Michele Herman backed only by Bennett’s sax and effects. I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no hidden agenda. Just listen and enjoy, smile and bop your head, and accept the simple pleasures of Sinking Houseboat Confusion.
Related artist(s): Daniel Bennett
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