The word ‘fusion’ often means different things to different people and as much as I enjoy throwing some chilli in with my Bolognese sauce, in this instance fusion means different styles of music. No one does fusion better than jazz musicians. The genre itself is a fusion of styles and influences, everything is welcome at the big table of jazz music and in the case of Colorado five-piece Big Brooklyn, we get treated to a type of music that is part jazz, part rock, part classical and part something called Klezmer.
I’ll admit that Klezmer is new to me but according to my sources (or Google as I call it) it’s a music of Jewish heritage that embraces improvisation and virtuosity from its musicians. A little like jazz then.
But does it work? Well, yes it does. The result is positive and upbeat and the players each take their turns in the spotlight to show what they can do on their respected instruments. We have a line up of drums, bass, guitar, sax and bass clarinet that sounds reminiscent of what Shabaka Hutchings is doing with UK four-piece Sons of Kemet. Sometimes the music sounds a little light, but this is common on recordings where the energy is diluted by the lack of a live audience, but I imagine that this band is a totally different beast on stage.
‘Every Eye’ starts with a guitar riff that enables the band to grow and find the groove, in some ways it reminds me of the jazz standard ‘Caravan’ in it’s North African sounds that pulls off a nice switch some two-thirds into the track. There is clearly a nod to the greats of the Blue Note era, ‘Send It To Me’ reminded me of the aggressive, frantic play of John Coltrane over some solid drumming (the cymbal gets a good workout on this track) before there is a tasteful drum solo.
Actually, the solos are the high point of the songs, I like the way the drums are aggressive, Willie Dornfield only switching to brushes on ‘A Little Faded’ to add to the laid back, post-gig feel to the song works brilliantly with bassist Jordan Asker who manages to find a lovely warm tone to his bass and underpin what is going on around him. The drums sit nicely and give a sharp edge to the music. I also like the guitar work of Aaron Summerfield throughout, I have never been a fan of the clean guitar sound of George Benson that seems to litter jazz music. The tone here is more in your face and allows some clever chords to fill the spaces. ‘Choro Futuro 1’ has a clever guitar solo that leads into some classy sax play by Luke Soasey, but the standout track is ‘Belong’.
It acts as an introduction to the players, starting with a drum foundation that builds and grows, each musician enters before a wonderful bass clarinet part by Melody Dornfield. It’s no surprise that this was released as a single prior to the album release.
The album ends on ‘Crazy Owl’ which sums up the band perfectly, there are nods to jazz as well as pop, the song is again built from a riff and the whole song sounds like an extended jam session.