Bizingas – Eggs Up High (2015)

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When the Bizingas first cut loose an album five years ago, Mark Saleski and many other out-jazz fans rejoiced. After all, this quartet undertook a different take on instrumental, improvisational music, a uniqueness that parallels the unique name that comes close to sounding like a moment of inspiration to Big Bang Theory’s‘s Sheldon Cooper. As the brainchild of trombonist/electro sounds commander Brian Dye, the promise of something truly different is further bolstered by the inclusion of Kirk Knuffke (cornet), Jonathan Goldberger (guitars) and Ches Smith (drums) in the group. They all have a predisposition for the jugular, all rooted in jazz but always stretching the idiom out to unnatural places. Or course, the promise was fulfilled and Bizingas (2010) thrilled anyone who likes quirky fusion-y jazz that zigs where you might expect it to zag.

Now that self-titled debut is, finally, supplemented by Eggs Up High (November 6, 2015, NCM East Records), and predictably, we are treated to more delightfully unpredictable stuff, a clamor of trad jazz instruments and vintage voltaic sounds put in the service of out-there, bleeding-edge rock-jazz/prog rock/experimental dance/anything-goes music.

This music is quite loose but not entirely free; Drye has conjured up fairly straightforward motifs usually formed by him and Knuffke, and everyone gets creative around those. A twinkling analog synth figure gets “Hawaii” going, feeding off of Smith’s dynamic rhythms, diverging into three discreet leads going on at once before returning to converge on the theme. Haitian music is brought into outer space on “Plant-Based,” where both Drye and Knuffke leave behind solos free from clichés.

Smith’s rapid brushed drums on “Once” churn like a runaway train; following a loose trombone improv, the rock lurking in the background comes roaring up front when Goldberger’s overdrive-heavy guitar takes over against organ backdrops. A piano pattern resembling the Police’s “King of Pain” opens “Shane” (for past Drye collaborator/trumpeter Shane Endsley), a genial melodic break in this musical madness. Knuffke’s cornet shines with resonant lead lines and a brief, thoughtful solo.

On top of all this variety, the Bizingas sometimes want to make you dance: “Along” with its 60s rock organ, Goldberger’s stinging acid-drenched guitar and Smith’s boogaloo backbeat, is the B-52’s playing downtown NY jazz. Smith metes out a high-hat “Teen Town” disco beat for “Slip” amid Goldberger’s Nile Rodgers rhythm guitar and those sharp, funky horns.

Never out of ideas or ways for his band of super avanteers to exploit them, Brian Drye does it again. Eggs Up High keeps the Bizingas’ creative zeal going strong.


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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