The pealing wail of the saxophone, the rapid clatter of the drum cymbals swish, and the springy shuffle of the keys illustrate bop-laden jazz from the past and equally true for the present when demonstrated by Jazz Combustion Uprising. Self-Immolation, the latest CD from the quintet helmed by saxophonist and clarinet player David Elaine Alt is an amalgamation of ideas from the past and present as they move through a selection of swinging bop standards. The band fires up the hearth grazing over boppish-style trimmings influenced by the likes of Charles Mingus, Sonny Rollins, Horace Silver, and McCoy Tyner while injecting their personalized touch. Every track is a standard from the ’60s branded with the band’s own tweaking and embellishments intermingled with the ideas of their predecessors making for an album that has the charisma of vintage jazz and the alacrity of contemporary bop.
The band shows sharp timing along the curves and swinging flares lobbing “Oxtail Soup” penned by Horace Silver and Charles Mingus. The flying riffs of Alt’s saxophone traipsing across “Cupcake Flavor Profile” has a Charlie Parkeresque flapping as Grant Levin’s keys glide with an agility reminiscent of the glory days of jazz. The lacquered gleam of Alt’s saxophone and smooth sheen of Henry Hung’s trumpet showers “44 Magnum” in a sheath of lulling verses contrasting the toe-tapping cadence buttressing Sonny Rollins and McCoy Tyner’s signature piece “Bike Lanes (Coming)” shellacked in the jumping blues toots of the horns. Alicia Bell’s vocals enhance the uplifting mood of the track. Further into the album is its addendum “Bike Lanes (Going)” also featuring Bell on vocals. Originally composed by Pharoah Sanders, Sun Ra, and Gil Scott-Heron, the track continues along the same vane of jumping blues rhapsodies barbed in jagged improvisations sprouting in an impromptu manner along the progressions.
The sprigs of boppish flourishes leisurely advancing along “Roberta, Roberta” showcase the billowing wail of the saxophone which is modulated to a caressing tremor in “Series of Adjustments” syncopated to move in time with the rhythmic thumps of the drums and bass. The suave gait of the horns is tabulated to have a downy flounce as the instruments casually stroll along “A Classic Base” then perform a waltzing stride in “Rising,” a love song written by Wayne Shorter and Abbey Lincoln. There is a relaxing comportment underpinning the tracks, a trait which the musicians share with the pioneers of bop.
The tightness of Jazz Combustion Uprising is illustrated in every track of Self-Immolation. Rekindling the knells of the past, the band has the melodic sensibilities of their forefathers and the ingenuity of a forerunner.
David Elaine Alt – clarinet and tenor, alto and soprano saxophones, Henry Hung – trumpet, Grant Levin – piano, Andrew Ryan – drums, Kenny Annis – bass, Gabe Davis – bass, Wendell Hanna – bassoon, Jane Lenoir – flute, Alicia Bell – vocals
Oxtail Soup, Bike Lanes (Coming), 44 Magnum, Cupcake Flavor Profile, Roberta Roberts, Series of Adjustments, This Unmemorable Evening, Self-Immolation, A Classic Base, Rising, Bike Lanes (Going)