From the opening of Random Access’ latest release Big Giant Head, a drowsy Bohemian aura is emanated from the bars of bass pluckings on "Birthday Cakes And Lawyers" and the listener is besieged by the band’s live jazz interplay. The music paints a picture in your mind of a group garbed in black berets and sunglasses with goatees around their mouths. It’s such a stereotypical image of modern jazz players made famous by Hollywood films from the ‘60s and up, and yet, it is a universal look that depicts the persona and lifestyle of avant garde/free jazz musicians. Although none of the members in Random Access looks like they fit this quintessential free jazz composite, their compositions on their current collaboration most certainly exemplify jazz music’s improvisational skills and free form musical structures using irregular rhythms and internal melodies which are synonymous with the Hollywood‘s cliché of avant jazz performers.
The band’s visceral avant jazz methodology shares abilities with classic artists like Cannonball Adderley and Thelonious Monk and contemporary outings by Lim and Harris Eisenstadt. Big Giant Head showcases Random Access’ symbiotic relationship to live in the moment. It is very likely that once these music moments have passed, they won’t come back sounding like they did before, ever again.
From the start, the musicians in Random Access choose what pitch they will play their instruments and the level of their intensity so the compositions are in a continuous flux bound by uncharted notations. Numbers like "Birthday Cakes And Lawyers" and "W&J" evolve into abstract harmonies and esoteric metrical phrases spawn from outre outgrowths and toggling chords spun from the saxophone, trumpet, and keyboards. The guitar textures induce quick witted slants along the sinuous clambering of the saxophone as the swing bass throttles and the drum scats implant percussive punctuations and angles with liberal exchanges. The impetuous bantering of the instruments on tracks like "Another Time" and "Suite For Drum Solo" form tangents and oblique curves as they continually move forward and seek adventure with an insatiable fervor.
Random Access’ music has a temerarious nature and a novice approach that exudes of rawness as the notes advance, fondle, crisscross, and rub against each other in all different directions. Although the musicians in Random Access have each been playing for over 30 years a piece, there is newness in each composition they make, like this is the first time that they are playing these tunes together. In this way, every song is a new expedition for the band and a new experience for the listener as the notes are not engraved in stone but have a childlike, whimsical stroll.
There are a few bluesy gambols like the title track, "44dd," and "Postcards" whose tooling of arousing saxophone vamps and erratic rhythms be-still the listener while the copious bop expressions operating "The Dermonds" advance into an avant jazz attainment. Random Access’ performance is challenging and each sonic interaction is a moment of quick thinking and acting from reflexive impulses.
The 13th album from Random Access Big Giant Head was produced by the band’s drummer and founding member Barry Romberg. Rounding out the band are Richard Brown (bass), Matt Horner (keyboards), Kelly Jefferson (tenor and soprano saxophone), Kirk MacDonald (tenor saxophone), Kieran Overs (bass), Kevin Turcotte (trumpet), and Geoff Young (guitar). The band’s music takes listeners along avant jazz capers that besiege and be-still them and always take them through new turns each time around.