Evolutionary Jass Band: Change of Scene
Community Library

The Evolutionary Jass Band courts a loose yet confident vibe throughout this lo-fi set laid down at the Michigan Avenue Social Club in 2005. It's an interesting release on a number of counts: though the band's vinegary acoustic jazz style calls to mind Albert Ayler and Eric Dolphy, among others, the Portland group isn't a pack of grizzled vets but a sextet co-led by one-time Jackie-O-Motherfucker members Jefrey Brown on horns and drummer Michael Henrickson. To its credit, the Evolutionary Jass Band pays homage to historical jazz idioms without becoming overly beholden to them.

A loose, New Orleans marching rhythm prods the honking saxophones and creaky violin that roll through “Aunt Dot,” with bandleader Brown's baritone carving the most robust path. The Ayler influence surfaces most noticeably in the wavering sax line that emerges in the second half of “Change of Scene.” Bassist Bob Jones and Henrickson don their Haden-Blackwell garb for the rollicking jam “Phillys' Frindge” with Daphna Kohn adding Ornette violin sawing to Brown's bluster. Elsewhere, the group indulges in modal riffing and African-flavoured percussion jams while also subtly nodding to more current practitioners (“Mercury,” for instance, works a sinuous Lounge Lizards soprano sax theme into its walking strut). Sitars add exotic character to the Eastern-themed “Devotion” but they're largely swallowed by the combustive wail that dominates the tune's eight-minute duration. Heard alongside other Community Library releases by Sawako, Solenoid, and Strategy, Change of Scene might sound anomalous yet is, in fact, entirely in keeping with the label's eclectic spirit.

June 2006