Revolutionary Snake Ensemble — Live Snakes
(Accurate Records AC-5065, 2014, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2014-07-22
Saxophonist Ken Field’s Revolutionary Snake Ensemble is basically a seven to fourteen-piece portable jazz party, a big band sound with a huge nod to dixieland and numerous other styles, as well as some brilliant improvisation. The live setting makes this even more fun than usual; it’s hard not to find joy and jubilation in these instrumental grooves. A dozen live cuts – only a few of which have appeared on earlier releases, were drawn from four shows over a two year period, so the group membership varies from track to track, but one will find trumpets, trombones, alto and tenor saxes, flutes, acoustic and electric bass, and (usually double) drums in abundance, along with occasional tuba and additional percussives. Roughly half of the tunes here are Ken Field originals, the balance being superb interpretations of standards and traditional pieces. Among the latter are an inspired version of Duke Ellington’s “Caravan,” the traditional “Rock of Ages,” and the 50s pop hit “Que Sera Sera” made popular by Doris Day, although the RSE version presented here breathes a whole new life into that old classic. Of special note is “For Karen,” a seven-minute group improvisation that segues directly into “I’ll Fly Away,” a 30s piece traditionally played at funerals – the feeling morphs gently from melancholy to joy, these two pieces dedicated to the recently departed animated film producer Karen Aqua (1954-2011). Also of note are the last two tracks on the disc, which are remixes of other pieces recorded by the group. All taken, a very fun release that deserves to be heard by all.
Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more
10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more
Bill Bruford Ventures into Uncharted Territory – Drum master Bill Bruford, veteran of some of the most creative bands in history (King Crimson, Yes, Genese, etc.), is sharing some of what he's learned about being a drummer and a musician in his new book, Uncharted: Creativity and the Expert Drummer, out on University of Michigan Press. » Read more