Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Mean Crow-s/t; Limited edition cassette/Digital download, Ross Hammond Bandcamp, 2015

A few weeks back, Disaster Amnesiac got into a pretty interesting conversation with a local business owner about our mutual love of Jazz. He told me about his trips to Monterey and Montreal Jazz Fests, and I told him about the rich, vibrant Northern California underground scene. The look of incredulity that he gave me was both heartbreaking and instructive. Heartbreaking, because I realized that he just did not believe me when I told him about how many great Jazz/Improvisational musicians this area has, and instructive because, after thinking about the interaction, I realized how much work must be done to let Jazz fans about said scene.
One can't say that Ross Hammond isn't doing his share of this undertaking. Take a glance at his bandcamp page, and you'll surely get my drift. Along with showcasing his own work, he also runs the great Gold Lion Arts organization in Sacramento, where he organizes shows and puts on educational and art events. Ross is WORKIN'!
Working, too, is the sound of Mean Crow. This trio features Hammond on guitar, Luke Stewart on bass, and Nate Scheible on drums. Together, they explore some seriously deep Jazz and improvisational spaces.
The set, recorded in late 2014 in Washington D.C., starts off with some the group playing collectively long, arcing tones, with an almost Industrial Jazz feel, before spinning of into a typically heady solo from Hammond. Disaster Amnesiac has enjoyed the simple approach of his aesthetic, and the myriad voices that he coaxes from just strings, neck, pickups, and amp. Ross continues to grow his sound; from a quite simplified base, he manages to produce an overwhelming array of tones and moods. Stewart and and Scheible most definitely keep pace with him. Their tight rhythm section actions cooks, boils, whirls and blazes around the guitar speak, with big, plummy bass tones and quick sticking/foot action on the traps. Stunning trio action herein! The only quibble I have is that its side cuts off right as Ross seems to be delving into another great statement. Dude, frustrating!
Thankfully for the attentive listener, side two continues with their sublime trio dynamics, with some hot slide guitar action following after the initial bowed bass eloquence of Stewart's playing. Scheible also impresses mightily with his brush chops, which are quick but by no means un-present within the action. This leads back to more full trio Harmelodic conversation, the group back in all-out STUN mode as the tape concludes, Mean Crow walking the listener out the door with a seriously bangin', funky, aural kick in the ass.
I could go on and on: Mean Crow's release is the kind that begs for the moment by moment enthusing that characterizes many a music fan. Disaster Amnesiac will just advise: find it and listen to it! If you're at all interested in Jazz or improvised music, I promise that you won't be disappointed.
Would that guys like the business owner that I mentioned be able to acknowledge talented voices when they hear, or even hear about, them, regardless of their status. Disaster Amnesiac feels happy to be able to do so, as I am always happy to hear new sounds from Ross Hammond and his various groups.

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