Thank goodness there are record labels like Konnex, for without such a home jazz musicians who wish to work in the free realm would have almost no means of distributing their music. Konnex is just one of a slender few labels that has produced a steady stream of experimental avant-garde jazz, allowing musicians unbounded vistas over which to express their art.
This recording of The Nabobs, a quintet of musicians from around the globe, was recorded in Brooklyn in February of 2006. Saxophonist Blaise Siwula was the only member of the five who knew everyone. The group gathered to play "in the moment," and the results demonstrate this.
Of the six free tracks on the disc, all organized with titles around the life of Richard Nixon, the playing is truly spontaneous and open to all possibilities. If any musician steals the show, however, it is guitarist Bruce Eisenbeil. On "Tricky Dick" his blistering lines of scorched earth, which his fellow bandmates follow in a rage of positive energy, sets up the frenzy to come. Then, when he changes gears to chordal blocks the ensemble breaks into an almost rock-out breakdown. On "I Am NOT A Crook" Eisenbeil’s motivic answers to the motivic figures saxophonists Mario Rechtern and Siwula propose are not only perfectly suited to the style of the moment but also find ways to meld the two saxophonists’ lines into a single harmonic thread. His accompaniment to Siwula’s solo on "The 18 Minute Gap" is, additionally, a brilliant mixing of straight-ahead harmonic concepts and avant-garde language.
"Me And My 5 O’Clock Shadow" is a really nice down-tempo and -volume ensemble release after the kinetic force of the first three cuts. Each of the saxophonists’ get solo time to interact in a more open atmosphere as different members of the group bow out allowing duos and trios to form. Eventually the piece morphs into sounds reminiscent of Evan Parker’s early free work.
While there are moments in all of the pieces that are similar to each of the other pieces, it’s still easy to hear how this group, given more time to work together in order to form shared musical associations, will be able to expand their sound and phrase concepts. Following their development should be exciting.