Naked Truth — Avian Thug
(RareNoise RNR057, 2016, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2016-03-30
This is the third Naked Truth release, and the first I’ve heard. The quartet features what might be considered a standard jazz configuration of keyboards, bass, and drums with a trumpet as the lead, but the result is pretty far from something like what came out of any of the classic trumpet quartets of previous decades. But the identities of the players should have eliminated that possibility before a note was played: Italian bass explorer Lorenzo Feliciati, percussion experimentalist Pat Mastelotto, Roy Powell of InterStatic on keyboards, and trumpeter Graham Haynes, an alumnus of Steve Coleman’s Five Elements known for using electronics and samples in his music. Powell’s keys encompass piano, electric piano, and organ primarily, with synthesizers also showing up at times, as well as effects to process the sounds of his other instruments. His playing avoids jazz tropes entirely, with single lines that jump around, color-shifting clusters on the organ, and quirky rhythmic patterns that seem at odds with the other players but make a kind of twisted sense. Feliciati shows a lot of range as well, at times hitting the fuzz for a powerful nasty low end, at other times tossing off slinky lines on the fretless; he also contributes a bit of guitar and keyboards. Mastelotto’s usual hybrid kit of acoustic and electronic “things to hit” is in evidence, though at times his electronics are impossible to distinguish from all the craziness coming from the others. He thrives in this jazz-oriented setting, and it’s nice to hear him in something other than his progressive rock mode. Haynes’ playing provides a lot of the album’s bright spots, both with straight-up acoustic lines and with a wide range of different kinds of processing with echoes, harmonizers, and so on. In some ways, Avian Thug is a perfect modern take on some of Miles Davis’s electric innovations, though that’s an impression that’s likely any time a trumpet is incorporated into electric / electronic music with jazzy leanings. Although I’d bet that anyone who hates Miles’ electric music wouldn’t go for this either. That is not me – bring on the Bitches Brew, and bring on the Avian Thug!
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more
Col. Bruce Hampton RIP – The phrase "He died doing what he loved" is almost a cliche, but in the case of Col. Bruce Hampton, it couldn't be more true. Hampton, who was born Gustav Berglund III, collapsed on stage at his own 70th birthday celebration and later passed away. The event took place at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. » Read more
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more