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Big Five Chord by Jon Lundbom

Perhaps best described as avant-fusion, Jon Lunblom’s quintet drives toward a unique sound that hybridizes the outside playing characterized in avant-garde while remaining rooted in rhythm-based fusion riffs. Most of the tunes are built around repeating guitar riffs with an alternating chorus, but once the solos fly, they often lead anywhere. This adds up to a propulsive, often exciting listening experience.

Originally from and musically trained in Chicago, Lunbom relocated to join in the New York jazz scene in 2001. Having played with such well-known names as Joe Lovano, Tom Harrell, and Ken Vandermark, Jon puts his experience to pen in this his debut album by composing all but two of the album’s titles. Lundbom seems to be drawn towards dark, brooding marches as displayed in many of his compositions. These give a percussive, chord-based comping and solo style that characterize many of the tunes. When not playing his own compositions, Lundbom lightens up and we are treated to a warm, chiming sound as heard on Baby Lemonade and Because We’re Kids.

The pace of the album starts off the tune with Duran, Duran, Duran. The horns playing the head in unison with Lundbom leads way to a dissonant guitar solo that slowly dissolves into Derek Bailey territory. Irabagon follows up with an offbeat solo while Lundbom continues to play dense textures in the background. On Fourteen By Sidle, Lundbom shifts gear, sounding like a blend between Bill Frisell and John Ambercrombie, using ringing chords to create a dense sound field. A slower pace composition, haunting chords greeted by the warm sounds of the saxes blowing the melody; slight hints of dissonance giving texture to sound. The closest to pure fusion, Burning August is a moderate tempo tune, hinting just slightly at pop. The dueling sax solos raise the temperature before bringing it back down at the close. A little know Syd Barrett (of Pink Floyd) song gets first class treatment by the group. The arrangement of Baby Lemonade is second to none. Sounding like something out of John Zorn’s Naked City, Have You Ever Seen a Woman as Big as Martha opens like a demented cartoon romp through a dark city before moving into something akin to a twisted version of March of the Wooden Soldiers. Lundbom’s dark, distorted marching riffs form the base for Lalli’s tenor extended solo. A beautiful arrangement of Dr. Seuss’ Because We’re Kids showcases how well the group handles clean sounds as well as dark. Opening with two sax solos, each impart a whimsical, lighthearted feeling that leaves the listener wanting more. Lundbom finishes up with an elegant solo. The Muppet Lips returns to more fusion to close out the set.

While just a debut album, the group has a sound that belies this. Blending genres, we are treated to an ever-shifting sound that has more than enough to offer any listener of avant, fusion, or even adventuresome bop. Only in his mid-twenties, one can only hope Lundbom has plenty more to offer the listening audience.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Jon Lundbom
  • CD Title: Big Five Chord
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2003
  • Record Label: Independent
  • Musicians: Jon Lundbom (guitar), Jon Irabagon (alto saxophone), Dominic Lalli (tenor saxophone), Moppa Elliot (bass), Justin Walke (drums)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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