Label/Year: Sunnyside, 2017
Lineup - Brandon Wozniak: saxophone; Dean Granros: guitar; Anthony Cox: electric bass, cello; Dave King: drums.
Minneapolis-born drummer Dave King, a bottomless well of rhythmic creativity, has been participating in several modern jazz projects that vary in nature and formation. In addition to the widely acclaimed trio The Bad Plus, King has been making interesting music with Happy Apple, Halloween Alaska, Buffalo Collision, and his Trucking Company group, whose excellent album Surrounded by the Night was reviewed last year on JazzTrail.
2017 signals another debut project led by King, a skittish quartet called Vector Families, featuring Brandon Wozniak on saxophone, Dean Granros on guitar, and Anthony Cox on electric bass and cello.
The title For Those About To Jazz/Rock We Salute You is a flattering way of saying thanks to the ones who follow their music and support their open style.
“Free Funk!” is partly indicative of what you’ll find in the opening tune, an excellent source of jazz/funk hybridity that brims with bass freedom, rough-and-tumble drum chops, and explorative melodies on the saxophone. All the more, we are driven to an unorthodox guitar solo, rich in scintillating harmonics and punctuated by unfettered atonal inventions. The guitarist coaxes the saxophonist to join the party, and both get back to reciprocal action by the end, delivering jointly extemporaneous runs and stimulating the percussive attacks of the drummer, who seems reluctant to ease things off.
“Duetz Duetz” is another suggestive title for a number that combines three duets to compose a solid whole. First, we get a modern classical feel as we spot Cox’s solemn cello gluing to the renegade acoustic temper of Granros. Afterwards, the latter is briefly joined by King, whose understated percussive environments also find Wozniak’s dramatic speeches in the concluding section. In this third phase, the initial vulnerable tone becomes denser as the saxophonist explores further, favoring spontaneous reactions from King.
Strayhorn’s classic piece “Satin Doll” is freely fragmented and graciously deconstructed through an unnervingly brash funky feel created by bass and drums, and the casual conversations between Granros, whose midi guitar technology emulates rusty piano sounds, and Wozniak, who scrutinizes around the theme’s melody.
Boasting a mantra-like percussive vibe and irregular chimes, the almost 18-minute “10,000-year-old Rotary Club” feels introspective as the saxophonist displays his introductory poetic vision. Cox infiltrates himself, adding effect-drenched bass lines to assure extra textural consistency. After Granros place his thoughts over a steady bass groove and syncopated rhythms, the tune ends up in multiple collective exultations.
The jolting “Dee Dee”, a composition by Ornette Coleman, starts as a typical swinging stretch that gradually advances into avant-garde territory. It is crammed with free rambles, just like the closing piece “African Dictaphone”, a sagacious exercise in free improvisation with Coltrane hints that, by turns, feel as much compact as elastic.
Vector Families actuates with uncanny power, exploring the aesthetic on the bolder side of the jazz spectrum. This first record is to be listened to attentively and its energy fully absorbed.
04 - 10,000-year-old Rotary Club ► 05 - Dee Dee ► 06 - African Dictaphone