Twenty years after forming and four years since their last album, Steven Bernstein’s madcap interpreters of jazz Sexmob is about to drop a whole new set of tunes on us. But when Cultural Capital goes on sale April 14, 2017, it’s literally going to be new tunes because in this latest twist, the quartet will release an album of all original songs for the first time. Thirteen Bernstein originals that will deprive the band the fun of squeezing all the familiarity out of someone else’s song and making it just as — sometimes more — entertaining in the process.
Luckily, composing is a Bernstein strong suit, too. Take, for instance, “Bari Si,” a track from Cultural Capital premiering in the stream above.
“Bari Si” is through-composed piece in the tradition of Jelly Roll Morton, which, like a lot of Bernstein creations, takes something real old and makes it avant-garde. Straddling the line between dissonant and harmonious, it might be a bit remindful of Eric Dolphy or Steve Lacy except that probably neither had ever paired their sax to a slide trumpet as Briggan Krauss pairs with Bernstein. Krauss peels away for a moment of taut soloing and just when you think you got this song all figured out, the band propels itself into a slow funky stride nailed down by Tony Scherr’s standup bass and Kenny Wollesen’s drums. That’s where Bernstein does his own sassy stuff on that slide trumpet.
It makes no difference if the song is a retrofit job or “Bari Si,” one of Steven Bernstein’s own creations on Cultural Capital: the Sexmob Swag pervades.
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