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Nut Club by Free Range Rat

I always felt that trumpeter John Carlson possesses the goods to become a highly visible force within progressive jazz circles. Citing his work with New England’s "Either/Orchestra," and this aggregation’s self-title 2000 CD for the C.I.M.P record label, Carlson’s exuberant modus operandi transmits, mega-chops with supercharged sentiments. Here, the band covers Sun Ra, Bob Marley and harmolodic guitarist James Blood Ulmer’s "Non-Believer (Suite)" amid several band initiated originals.

It’s largely about the group’s loose-groove gait that decreases any notions of austerity or free-form jazz that under many circumstances would seem overly cerebral. They venture into free-bop, swing and funk to complement their adherence to dynamics, often executed at variable pitches and flows. Then again, the quartet is apt to deploy an in-your-face vibe featuring the hornists’ interleaving passages and torrid exchanges.

On "Below Canal," Carlson and tenor saxophonist Eric Hipp explore the lower register via extended notes -- giving way to somber musings and moments of angst. Moreover, they seamlessly progress into a cohesive thematic element, firmed-up by drummer George Schuller’s staggered backbeats. In other spots Hipp’s popping sax lines exude notions of wit and whimsy, where the band often accelerates the festive outlook with cantankerous dialogues. Simply stated, this a unit that aims to excite and appease. Laudable chops, frisky interplay and an irrefutable fusion of adventure provide the knockout blow....

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Free Range Rat
  • CD Title: Nut Club
  • Genre: Progressive
  • Year Released: 2006
  • Record Label: Clean Feed
  • Musicians: John Carlson (trumpet, pocket trumpet, & flugelhorn), Eric Hipp (tenor saxophone), Shawn McGloin (bass), George Schuller (drums, bells & rattly kinds-of-things). Special guest: Douglas Yates (clarinet & bass clarinet)
  • Rating: Three Stars
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