WTF?! Wednesdays: Splatter Trio with Stan Grabowski, “Wives and Lovers” (1998)

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The Bay Area guerrilla thrash-jazzers the Splatter Trio were only together for five or six years during the first half of the 90s, but they managed to leave a path of destruction in their wake. Dave Barrett (saxes), Gino Robair (drums), and Myles Boisen (guitar, bass) were experimental alright, and often went out of their way to contort nearly every music style to their own rough, unhinged image, or just make noise that’s not really music but to the right ears, can be considered art. And they loved to take other people’s material and turn it on its head; witness the Miles Davis tribute of sorts, A Fistful Of Dewey (1994).

On their post-breakup odds ‘n’ ends album Splatterarities, they took on the Burt Bacharach/Hal David crooner classic “Wives and Lovers.” Or perhaps it’s more accurate to state that vocalist Stan Grabowski covered the song completely straight while the troublemaking trio plays raw, visceral punk jazz totally unrelated to the song like a Peter Brötzmann-led combo. The violent clash of mannerisms approaches hilarity because Grabowski is behaving like as if Sinatra’s backing orchestra is behind him, even going as far as to cue the instrumental break with a quick “take it,” which only eggs on the band to let go what little restraint they had before. They don’t even both to rein themselves in when Grabowski returns to sing the last verses (and Lord only knows how he could know where his re-entry point was).

That vocal doesn’t quite get out of the song unscathed by the Splatter weirdness, though; the ending line “time to get ready…for love” gets looped over itself several times as the band circles in for their crash landing.

One gets the feeling the vocal wasn’t recorded together with the accompanying music, anyway, but that would do little to make it any less entertaining. Admittedly, I’m no fan of “Wives and Lovers” so it doesn’t bother me at all that the Splatter Trio trampled all over it. But even if I did like the song, I’d still have to admire their moxie and wit. Oh, and for sounding like Peter Brötzmann, too.

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