Le Rex — Escape of the Fire Ants
(Cuneiform Rune 464, 2019, CD / DL)
by Jon Davis, Published 2019-09-17
Le Rex is back with another set of mutant jazz. With their horns and drums lineup, some comparisons to New Orleans street bands are inevitable, but this Swiss band definitely takes that sound into dimensions far beyond Bourbon Street. (Not that Bourbon Street is a bad place to be.) Marc Unternährer’s tuba propels the arrangements with a fat, funky bottom end, sometimes augmented by Andreas Tschopp’s trombone for extra oomph. Drummer Rico Baumann at times provides a funked-up march beat in Nola style, but at other times approaches the tunes with rock energy or jazzy subtlety, depending on the needs of the song. Up front are the saxophones, Benedikt Reising on alto and Marc Stucki on tenor, and they’re both great players, capable of sweet harmonies, precise rhythms, and wild flights of avant craziness. I love the way the arrangements will go from old-school chordal harmonies to modern dissonance and back again without warning. On trombone, Tschopp slips back and forth between supporting the tuba’s bass lines and participating in the chords and melodies with the saxes, and his solos are treats as well, avoiding the woozy silliness the instrument can sometimes have. The dozen tunes on Escape of the Fire Ants total more than an hour, but every one of them is a winner, and the time flies by, so don’t be surprised if you want to hit the repeat button.
Related artist(s): Le Rex
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