Dan Clucas, Vinny Golia, Steuart Liebig, Alex Cline - Boojum Quartet

Label: Klooktone Records, 2019

Personnel - Dan Clucas: cornet; Vinny Golia: saxophones and clarinets; Steuart Liebig: electric contrabass; Alex Cline: drums and percussion.

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The stalwart Boojum Quartet is Dan Clucas on cornet, Vinny Golia on saxophones and clarinets, Steuart Liebig on electric contrabass, and Alex Cline on drums and percussion.

The 23-minute “Big Boojum” takes time to evolve, initially bringing master Cline’s cymbal projections and tasteful thumps to the center. Despite the effortless communication between Clucas and Golia, which usually sparks off reactions in the rhythm section, it’s the drummer who shines here. He switches to brushes in the middle of the trip for a smoother ambiance, but still joins the impenetrable horn activity and dark contrabass lines with a panoply of articulated drum sounds. Together, they go for a dark psychedelia-infused finale in the vein of the industrial rock fashion of Ministry and Skinny Puppy. In contrast, the succinct “Little Boojum”, clocking in at 1:22, provides a very cinematic experience with muted cornet and bass clarinet operating beautifully within their distant ranges.

Taking nearly 20 minutes, “Oak”, one of my favorite pieces, opens with scattered percussive strokes, many of them belonging to the metallic category, and finds Golia in his more thoughtful and sparse playing. On his side, Clucas, unpolished and unapologetic, pours out torrents of fierce phrases like lava expelled from a giant volcano. Following the fearlessly funk-rock stride laid down by Liebig and Cline (both their individual and combined sounds are fantastic), the saxophonist gesticulates with power and glory, discharging searing energy from his saxophone. Down the bumpy road, the horn lines juxtapose. The cooperation is tense and dramatic, but the air becomes much less congested, even when unimposing drones appear underneath a few minutes before the conclusion.

If “Manzanita” and “Eucalyptus” bring no novelty attached in their nonchalant passages without diminishing the impact of the material as a whole, then “Poppy” offers another excellent ride, in which the musicians push and pull one another in a spontaneously improvised setting that ranges from mournful to unfettered. Before a quiet dawning, where the substratum is propped by Liebig’s irregular single and double plucks, the quartet embarks on an avant-garde foray containing muted cornet in coalition with saxophone rapid trills and vertiginous swirls, before landing on a turbulent alternative rock rumpus filled with grimy rhythmic onslaughts.

The four avant-jazz specialists put a lot of fervency and devotion in this revolutionary session.

Grade  A-

Grade A-

Favorite Tracks:
02 - Poppy ► 03 - Big Boojum ► 05 - Oak