Jeff Palmer and Dave Garramone have previously recorded with some of the greats - John Abercrombie, Victor Lewis, Adam Nussbaum - and Palmer has played with John Scofield, Grant Green and George Benson.
Apparently Mayhem is a new direction for him. All the compositions are his. Its style is very '90s - 2000s, while my taste hovers more around the '40s - '60's (think Gene Ammons, Cannonball, Horace Silver). But that said, I liked this high-spirited, energetic, inventive music. Categorizing Mayhem is difficult. Funk is pervasive but there are elements of free jazz and soul jazz. While the content is far from mainstream, the form often follows the traditional intro-melody-solos-melody format. The adept combination of styles is one of this album's greatest strengths. Devin Garramone often starts off with sax leads that sound like exercises, but hip, burning exercises. Jeff Palmer's organ is usually supportive but understated until his solos erupt. Justin Battle lays down the funk throughout, with a brief solo on "Ropadope". I dare anyone to keep their body still during this music. With chops galore, he makes the long, flowing lines he pushes out there sound effortless. He sounds like a man on a mission. The trio sounds very organic, a unit that works great together. Occasionally some unexpected sound emerges - crowd noise, vocalization, sound effects, distortion. So, any downsides to Mayhem? The sax especially is full throttle (loud) all the way. After a while there's also a certain sameness to the different tracks. But overall, Mayhem is well worth a listen.