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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



SHAMOKIN !!!
MOSTLY OTHER PEOPLE DO THE KILLING


Hot Cup 063

 

 



1. Handsome Eddy
2. The Hop Bottom Hop
3. Shamokin
4. Dunkelbergers
5. Factoryville
6. Lover
7. Andover
8. Evans City
9. Baden
10. A Night in Tunisia.
 
PETER EVANS, Trumpet; JON IRABAGON, Alto saxophone;
MOPPA ELLIOT, double bass; KEVIN SHEA, drums.
 
 
Well ! At least all the players seem to be having a whale of a time.
But alas, their exuberance and fun doesn’t always infect the listener with the same level of merriment.
As a live act, one can imagine this as a stomper, but in the cold light of a CD it needs a very good party to accompany it, - and the party should start first to get everyone going.
The first track begins with a nice hollow percussion sound, then a standard motif. Good so far, but them the motif is split between the sax and trumpet. Very clever, but not clever enough, because the ‘splitting’ is just that, - it lacks the seamless joints required to push the business on and leaves the top end parts fighting for a cohesion which has to be supplied by the rhythm section.
To give out the theme with irregular pointillism when melodic depth is required may be a brave gesture but it is akin to having to peck the corn before one can sample the chicken.
A lot of the notes from a trumpet sound like squeaking an inflated latex item and are mirrored by a saxophone that leaps out of the written range into an orbit of fuzz and bubble.
The bass and drums fall into the same sort of traps.
There is a lot of impressive thumping and banging from the drums, and some energetic, strumming from the bass player; who, when he takes up his bow manages to combine just about every string technique from col legno to glissando multi stopping.
Nonetheless there is some good bowed sound in track 8 which lives in the memory despite the manic laugh that concludes the number.
The drummer doesn’t get much of a break until the last track and it is a long solo, technically competent, but in some respects one feels the roots are in a marching band.
It’s a pity that the melody instruments so often take refuge in repeated notes and squeaky gimmicks when a bit of decent melodic improvisation would give us all an interlude.
Exploratory noises are great fun, particularly in a three dimensional gig but they soon pall when they become the prop for some fairly run-of-the-mill stuff on a disk
At track four, the mood changes and the sleeve tells us that,
"It is a string of minor-key clichés modelled on countless attempted sambas and bossa-novas"
The clichés are in themselves quite nice but the improvisation soon degenerates into the usual technical exercises and repetitive squawks.
Track 6, "Lover" starts out as a nice smoochy tune and then after 8 bars the sax can’t resist exploring quarter tones followed by the trumpet in an atonal version that serves only to make the other tuned instruments sound wrong.
Suddenly an up-tempo signal lets everyone have a go with the latex, burbles and whacks which serve to remind us that it takes a good jazzer to deliver a good slow, and an even better one to make a decent improvised solo on a slow.
It seems that for Shamokin the technique is getting there but artistic invention is a going to be a much longer journey.
If you are intent on having a noisy party or simply annoying the neighbours, this is an item for you.

Adrienne Fox



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