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Big Monkey Swing by Night Skeebo

Free Jazz and drum /horn duos go back a long ways. Those galactic jaunts Elvin Jones and John Coltrane went on in the Jazz past are the stuff of no small legend. Coltrane also took you, the lucky listener, on a whole album of interstellar journeys with drum kit shredder Rashid Ali. Most recently, John Zorn and Milfred Graves stirred up a tasty sonic stew for those lucky to be at Zorn’s fiftieth birthday bash. Those of us not lucky heard the recording of the gig. Now, the duo of Marcus Henderson (saxophone and fife) and Skeebo Night (great moniker!) don’t hit the same highs of the aforementioned (don’t fault them, since there’s only one Mozart, one Ornette, etc.). However, They create a shaggy dog disc that’ll bring a smile to the most jaded of Free Jazz aficionados.

The sounds the two make stay less in space and more on the air between earth and sky. Skeebo (I love typing that) keeps things fairly grounded with his rumbling drumming. There’s a lilting pulse, a bit like a more than tipsy marching band rolled into a single drum kit. Things roll and bounce but never break. The ferocity is directed in that pulse. It goes contained. Where as Graves (remember Zorn and his fifties) can sound like there’s something he wants to kill, Skeebo seems to want you to dance, if only in a fractured way. Over this rolling pulse, Henderson weaves an Ornettey blend of melodic squiggles and jagged melodies. In Henderson’s playing there’s almost an old New Orleans feel, a bit of Dixieland. Together, the two seem like best pals jamming away in some garage. Both seem to be having a blast and it’s contagious.

All in all, a real nice listen contagious fun and affirming camaraderie, if no molds broken or new inner space planets discovered. On a side note, these guys hail from Macon, Georgia.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Night Skeebo
  • CD Title: Big Monkey Swing
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: Big Hair Music
  • Rating: Three Stars
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