Charlie Hunter, Scott Amendola, and Ben Goldberg emerged from an adventurous Bay Area jazz scene that flowered in the 1990s, but went off in different directions. Hunter took his custom-made eight-string guitar into hip-hop, then fusion, and ultimately formed a group that straddles the line between blues-rock and jazz. Meanwhile, Goldberg and Amendola became prominent in the more rarefied free-jazz world, and eventually formed the Thelonious Monk-inspired group Plays Monk with bassist Devin Hoff. Denver-based Ron Miles also became known for having an ecumenical approach in his collaborations with guitarist Bill Frisell. Recently the four musicians convened as Go Home, releasing a four-track recording that isn't quite an album, but does make for a fascinating side project.
What unites these guys is their ability to oscillate between forms and traditions. Not beholden to any particular scene or trend, they can start with a straight-ahead tune and follow it with a track that rejects all conventions — including tonal unity. "All Chords Stand for Other Chords" has Miles and Goldberg playing in tandem — sometimes the same melody line, sometimes slight variations on a melody that swirl around each other, like two voices in a Bach fugue. Amendola and Hunter fill in the spaces between notes, creating a clattery exchange that never quite coalesces into a tune, but still sounds like the result of four musicians listening carefully to one another. The other tracks — including a jazz-rock number, "D Minor Groove," and a tango-ish song, "Root and Branch" — sound less abstract, and use generic drum and bass patterns. (In fact, Hunters' bass lines often blur out the drums.)
All told, it's an interesting experiment that shows the breadth and range of these guys as individuals, but doesn't do justice to any of them as composers. Still, it's a good listen.
Seven Days - January 21, 3:06 PM
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