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.
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more