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Killing Time by Massacre

When folks talk "trios," it usually means "piano trio" (jazz; keys/bass/drums) or "power trio" (rock; guitar/bass/drums). In the 30s & 40s, a piano trio often meant piano/guitar/bass - these days, sax/bass/drums combos are proliferating. There is something about that configuration of "three." End of pedantic history lesson - the real history lesson begins with the re-release of the first album by Massacre, the trio of category shredders Fred Frith, Bill Laswell, and Fred Maher.

First released in the 1981 on the Celluloid label, their debut record Killing Time captured the first flowering of what is euphemistically known as the NYC "Downtown sound," that loosely-knit posse of hyper-eclectic jazz players (renegade fusion-ers, avant/loft types, the odd post-bopper or two) and edgy, underground rockers. Superficially, Massacre appear to be a rock band - while they utilized six-strings/four-strings/drums and they could indeed rock, a lot of what they played was group improvised.

As for the compositions, Frith’s writing is a wee bit like Frank Zappa’s in that unusual time signatures, choppy rhythms, and wry/queasy/thorny instrumental passages joyously collide with charming, disarming melodies. In other words, if you think you don’t like it, stick around. In a few minutes it’ll be way different. Imagine Funkadelic playing Captain Beefheart, or if Power Tools (the 80s trio of Bill Frisell, Melvin Gibbs and R. Shannon Jackson) trying for a synthesis of the Minutemen and Cream. Or, if Jimi Hendrix had lived, further pursued jazz while at the same time streamlined his approach with the amphetamine discipline of punk rock. Punk jazz? Maybe - whatever, this stuff has kick, is volatile, is loaded with crazy-wild/white-hot ideas, it has a few bonus live tracks and has been remastered at the correct speed. What more do you need?

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Massacre
  • CD Title: Killing Time
  • Genre: Other
  • Year Released: 2006
  • Reissue Original Release: 1981
  • Record Label: ReR
  • Musicians: Fred Frith (electric guitar, misc.),Bill Laswell (electric basses, pocket trumpet),Fred Maher (drums.)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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