Reptet — Chicken or Beef?
(Monktail MCMC8, 2008, CD)
Reptet — At the Cabin
(Artists Recording Collective ARC-2253, 2011, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2013-05-15
Reptet fits squarely into that stream of jazz bands that contains the Lounge Lizards, Microscopic Septet, the Tiptons, and so on: crazy arrangements, skilled playing, influences drawn from both within jazz and outside, and a penchant for humor. In this case, the front line of horns features leader Samantha Boshnack on trumpet, two multi-instrumental woodwinds (saxes, clarinets, flutes) in Izaak Mills and Chris Credit; Nelson Bell on trombone, tuba, and so on; plus a rhythm section of John Ewing on drums and percussion, and Tim Carey on basses. Various guests add other intstruments from time to time. Boshnack is the main composer, though Credit, Carey, and Mills also contribute tunes. The world is full of competant players, so saying the band members are all really good at what they do is probably not enough to set Reptet apart. But combine that with charts of this caliber and you've got something special that should appeal to tastes ranging from fairly old-school jazz to rock and experimental music. While remaining more or less faithful to many of the standard sounds of jazz, expectations and traditions are defied at every turn. The typical flow of a tune (head, solos, repeat head) is completely tossed out — these arrangements are more akin to the exploratory big band music of Gil Evans, Hank Levy's work with Stan Kenton's band, and Toshiko Akiyoshi, though scaled down to a smaller ensemble. There's also a bit of the spirit of entertainment that's heard on some early New Orleans recordings, where the players chant catch-phrases to punctuate the tunes. The title track of Chicken or Beef is one of those. The horn parts are put together in very sophisticated ways, sometimes blocked in extended chords, sometimes breaking up into polyphony. And the solos are all great — each one of these players has interesting things to say. If you liked Fast 'n' Bulbous or Revolutionary Snake Ensemble, you're likely to enjoy this as well. The sense of fun is infectious, and surprises are around every corner.
Related artist(s): Reptet
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