Superstar diva Norah Jones sings on the stunningly beautiful, dream-laden piece titled "Lonely Lament." But that component of this Louisville, KY., based band signifies just one facet of the big picture. They’re a vastly creative and somewhat wily lot, indeed. And while the State of Kentucky is better known for its bourbon, bluegrass and infamous Derby, this nonet would intimate that there’s a thriving progressive-jazz scene in the works.
The ensemble propels the seriously happening string of events with a complex piece titled "Armed Ant War," where the band merges Frank Zappa-like time signatures with avant, Sousa style March patterns, and punchy horn charts. Complete with Latin motifs amid the intermittent injection of humor, the band is prone to shifts gears by throttling back rapidly-paced themes to complement pieces designed upon pulsating jazz-rock grooves. They also morph traces of Duke Ellington’s chromatic arrangements via multipart story-lines and mainstream, big band style bravado. On the album’s closer "Happiest Man," bassist Sonny Stephens and drummer Jason Tiemann lay down a reggae groove in support of the hornists’ tender choruses that portray a sunny outlook with an endearing melody.
Overall, this outfit’s moniker parallels a notion that the music iterated hear goes against the grain. They shun the tried, true or formulaic post-bop renaissance due to a group-centric methodology that is constructed with virtuosic talent, wit and a penchant for seamlessly morphing styles. Simply stated, this effort looms as an unanticipated surprise and is a product that should not be relegated to an obscure existence. (Recommended.... )