Back Up Over
The first three pieces introduce the listener into the trio's(Ken Husbands, guitar; Aaron Germain, bass; Otto Huber Drums) realm of tightly syncopated rhythms and free flowing improvisations. The combination of rhythmic complexity, harmonic variation and melodic improvisation in the context of deep rooted grooves and solid song structures in evidence on these tracks reflects the group's priorities and it's influences, which are in evidence on the CD as a whole. The arrangement of Bjork's "The Anchor Song" initially follows the original arrangement quite closely, with the guitar covering the three horn parts, but then a steady rhythmic pulse is added and the open harmonic form is developed. The melody is repeated over new rhythmic and harmonic structures, teasing new meaning from the beautiful simplicity of the original song. The brief section of improvised exchange between voice (Suzanna Smith) and guitar moves further away from the rigid form of the original before returning to the distinctive repeated melody. Leonard Cohen's classic love song is not drastically altered in form, but in sensibility. Replacing the 1980's drum machine's lurching 4/4 rhythm with a more organic 6/8 bass ostinato and replacing the synthesized electronic sounds with acoustic instruments opens up the sound. The use of the Greek bouzouki recalls Cohen's own inclusion of various double stringed middle eastern instruments on his later recordings. More dramatically, however, having an undeniably feminine voice sing "I'm Your Man" casts the song's gender clichés in a new light, without diminishing it's power as a compelling statement about dedication. Bassist Aaron Germain's composition, played here much more slowly than on his release, Before You Go, is a beautiful melody over an altered 12 bar blues structure. The harmonies do not always resolve in the same way as in the traditional blues pattern, offering one possible interpretation of the "wrong way" in the title. In this case "wrong" sounds "right" and the band definitely treats it as a blues, despite the ballad tempo. Continuing in the blues idiom, "La Dinde" is a spirited romp through the streets of New Orleans. The title, meaning "turkey" in French, is an oblique reference to the bass pattern, which is borrowed from Jaco's rendering of Pee Wee Ellis's funk classic "The Chicken." "Et Alors!" brings back the electric bass and the syncopated rhythmic displacement of the first three compositions, but within the context of a James Brown-like, funk inspired groove, allowing the soloists to stretch out. The CD closes with "Djanéa," composed and recorded by Cameroonian bassist Etienne Mbappé when he was with the Paris-based fusion group Ultramarine. This version hews pretty closely to the original arrangement, but the guitar covers the parts originally played by saxophone and keyboards, creating a lighter and less electronic texture. The brief vocal interlude in the original is here turned into a space for improvisation before returning to the tightly composed structure.