The New Decay

for those who love myusik

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Drumheller plays with 'Wives'

Last week I did a feature on guitar wiz Eric Chenaux. Below is an article on his Jazz group Drumheller and their latest album Wives. I will be doing the first half of my year-in-the-rear-view on tomorrows show and will have something up here soon. In the meantime ... Drumheller;

With their latest release Wives, Drumheller reminds us how the greatest triumph of Jazz is not one of technical proficiency but rather the creative shape that experimentation and improvisation can take in music. Drumheller is a Jazz ensemble that consists of Eric Chenaux (guitar), Rob Clutton (bass), Nick Frasier (drums), Brodie West (sax) and Doug Tielli (trombone). With their strong focus on experimenting with sound, song structure and melody, Drumheller create an eclectic style of Jazz that is flirting with disaster.

Wives can be seen as equal parts Duke Ellington and Pere Ubu. Each piece on the album contains a melody that harkens back to 1940s swing era Jazz. These are melodies you can see your grandparents singing along with. However, with this focus on creating good melodies for each piece coupled with the ‘deep pocket’ of the Clutton-Frasier rhythm section, the horns and guitar are allowed the space to take many liberties with their solos. Reminiscent of Dub-Housing era Pere Ubu, where their rhythm section allowed for more freedom for the other members to experiment, the horns and guitar on Wives constantly play with and irritate each other. As a result the album exudes a lighthearted experimentalism that is still well rooted in the Jazz tradition.

Take the song ‘Porch’ as example. It begins with a melody that is so stereotypical of Jazz that you are convinced you’ve heard it before. This is made stronger as the horns and guitar are all playing it together in unison. Yet this predictability is short-lived as the melody quickly breaks down into various unpredictable solo sections. All of a sudden the instruments that were playing in playful unison are now working against each other. Just before the song collapses completely, in comes that familiar melody again, this time to bring the song to an end. The result is that, to quote Carl Wilson of the Globe and Mail, Drumheller constantly “sound like ‘Ain’t Misbehaving’ except they’re clearly misbehaving all the way.’


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