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Electric Rosary by Living Daylights

The third disc by Seattle’s honest-to-goodness fusion trio Living Daylights shows the group’s seventies-era jazz and Eastern European mix to good effect. The group has found a rabid fan base throughout the Northwest with tape traders popping up at their club dates akin to a Dead show. No wonder - there’s plenty to dig into here with jerky grooves, virtuosic improvisation and an overall sense of musical joy and mischievous adventure that shows the group aims to stick around for awhile.

It’s good news and others are noticing. Check out the star turn drive-by here from guitarist Bill Frisell, god of Seattle’s burgeoning jazz scene. Frisell brings his quirky chording and the clipped sting of his biting reverb to four cuts here. But by no means does he steal the show. What makes the tunes so special is how well the trio incorporates the guitarist’s distinctive sound into the group dynamic without losing their way. It takes a confident threesome to swallow a musician of Frisell’s ilk and integrate him into the family unit.

Confident they are. Saxophonist Jessica Lurie may be familiar to some from her work with the Billy Tipton Memorial Sax Ensemble. She’s a player who favors sinewy snake dance phrasing that skirts the melody but never strays too far from home. She has a warm tone that doesn’t drop into squonking no matter how frenetic her partners get behind her. Case in point: the furious "Get Bone-A-Fide" where she digs in like a Kansas City shouter on the heady groove.

Though Lurie holds the melody aloft on most tunes, she gets help from both Frisell and, surprisingly, Livingston. This is no traditional rhythm section role player. Livingston aspires to Jaco Pastorius-Stanley Clarke heights and on tunes like "Fall" he reaches them. After slinking out of vogue among serious jazz heads bent on the alleged purity of the stand up double bass, it’s a kick in the ass to hear what a virtuoso can do with the instrument. Fast fingered yet powerfully melodic, his bass manages to both tunefully sing and prod the time forward at once. Meaty playing from a vegetarian.

The effect can be trance-inducing live as electric bassist Arne Livingston pops just beneath Lurie's saxophone driving it along while drummer Dale Fanning furiously fans the flames behind them both. There are moments of such magic on the disc - the closing "Sunday Meeting Club" for one - but the group’s live disc will be worth waiting for.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Living Daylights
  • CD Title: Electric Rosary
  • Genre: Fusion
  • Year Released: 2000
  • Record Label: Liquid City
  • Musicians: Jessica Lurie (sax and flute), Arne Livingston (bass), Dale Fanning (drums, percussion) and Bill Frisell (guitar)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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