What is it about the Midwest anyway? It’s supposed to be conservative and it sure can be, but like with any "repressive" setting, it engenders wild creativity. Doppler Shift are from Illinois (or thereabouts) and they’ve got a two-horn/bass/drums lineup, a la Ornette Coleman early quartets, so one might expect jazz in the vein of Coleman and his contemporaries. As the late H.S. Thompson might exclaim, Zang!
While shades of O.C. can be heard here, bigger, louder overtones from the Tower of Power horn section, James Brown’s hornmen Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley, Don Ellis, the sadly under-heard Microscopic Septet and the now-somewhat-obscure early 80s UK band Pigbag, who mixed churning funk with African-flavored horn harmonies. The rhythm team of Doppler Shift struts 'n slams heafy funk, at times almost rocks, and the sax-trumpet combination (lots of unison playing here) cry madly alluring melodies, betraying not only a funk background, but also aspects of Grand Wazoo-era Frank Zappa. The horns have so much presence, this foursome sounds like a much larger group. I double-checked the credits to see how many more horn players were present. (Nada.)
While there are some "out" moments, DS doesn’t play "out" jazz nor are they fusion per se. If I had to do a sum-up-few-words re: them, I could say: Like the Memphis Horns hopped-up on Benzedrine, a micro-miniaturized version of Fred Wesley’s JB’s or Ellis' mega-orchestras. Oh yes, horn-dudes Pandocchi and Niebuhr do solo with emotive inspiration, wit and economy.
Except for a couple spots where the bassist sounds like the Seinfeld segue guy, Physics is one hell of a romp, the aural equivalent of a triple cappuccino on ice on an 85 degree day.