Jon Lundbom and Big Five Chord – No New Tunes (2012)

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The daring guitarist/composer Jon Lundbom is back at it again, meting out intense, unpredictable guerrilla jazz with his Big Five Chord quintet. No New Tunes follows up on last year’s Quavers! Quavers! Quavers! Quavers! with a half dozen steaming fresh batch of originals that vary in tonality, intensity and character. This record, like Lundbom’s prior two, is a Hot Cup Records release, which tells you one thing right off: it’s got lots of gumption. And he’s backed by a crew with some of the brightest, fearless players of the NYC scene: Jon Irabagon (alto and soprano saxes), Bryan Murray (tenor and balto! saxes) and Hot Cup founder Moppa Elliott (bass). Dan Monaghan replaces Danny Fisher on drums.

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: Lundbom’s 2011 release Quavers! Quavers! Quavers! Quavers! keeps listeners guessing what zany trick the Big Five Chord will perform from one track to the next.]

Aside from swapping the drummer, Lundbom did something else different for this record: he financed it on the cheap, along with Hot Cup and is releasing it download only (with a limited edition 12″ vinyl version due out this fall). OK, so maybe Lundbom cut some corners in the financing of this record. He didn’t skimp a bit when it came to the music itself.

Going through these six songs makes me realize how much the first change did impact the music. Monaghan, a first call percussionist in his Philly hometown, is an unmovable force on nearly every song. He swings like the dickens on “The Bad! Thing” (yes, Lundbom & crew can and does swing), goes inside/outside on the barely contained “Talent For Surrender” and combines a fierce swing with rolling thunder on “Of Being Done To.” “The Other Third One” (Youtube above) shows it’s quite possible to rock and rock hard in a two-horn jazz quintet setting. Much of that feat is accomplished by Elliot’s locked-in groove in tandem with the heavy rock poundings from Monaghan, as well as Murray’s menacing balto! saxophone.

Lundbom himself is as diverse as a guitarist as he is writing and arranging his songs. He can articulate razor-sharp jazz lines (“The Bad! Thing”), go avant-rock on “Surrender” and pluck some soft phrases on the ballad “And Be Made Visible.” Irabagon and Murray both play in every which way but clichéd or timid.

With the exception of “The Other Third One,” this is a jazzier record than other Big Five Chord offerings. Along with that, it’s a rawer, more direct record. It’s just as good as those other albums, though, because it’s got the same attitude and the same aptitude, the two things this band does so well.

No New Tunes comes out September 4 on Hot Cup Records. Purchase a download of the album for just $5 at Jon Lundbom’s website.

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S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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