Experimental jazz is an acquired taste, one that I made no attempt to acquire until this past year when I moved to Mexico and met the guitar player Juan Juan Castañón Acasia. Superbly versatile, Castañón can and does play anything from American classics rock and roll, to Mexican favorites, to progressive jazz. But his love is experimental jazz convinced me to give it a try and night of experimental jazz by D/zaster – his band – at Guadalajara’s Chango Vudú Club, convinced me. So when Juan and his bandmates released For Ornette, I gave it a spin and was glad I did.
The EP consists of 5 songs ranging in length from 4 to 10+ minutes, giving the guys plenty of room for adventures. And they take them. The lead-off song, The Sphinx moves from high energy sax and drums softening and hardening as it travels to a base solo. “Beauty is a rare thing” follows with a melodic sax line over a cacophony of instrumental and possibly vocals that paints a sonic picture of a busy city that winds down at the end of the day.
The first title track (there are two) pulls you out with a vibrating sax intro and a simple, uncluttered movement that builds energy with drum and guitar before smoothing down with drum brushes and a sax conversation. The second title track begins with sax squeaks supported by brush drumming and moves along with Castañón’s excellent guitar playing, bass solos and a final whisper of cymbals. The EP ends with “Roundtrip”, a song much more I the jazz group, sax-led with a full band support under it, centered on electric guitar.
The quartet on For Ornette was actually formed in mid-July 2015, one month after saxman Ornette Coleman’s death. It met for two concerts and then decided to lock themselves up one afternoon to record. The album is a small part of what emerged from the meeting. The recording had been in storage ever since (it’s a long story) and was released last Friday. Give it a spin. You will glad you did.
For Ornette by Don Malfon Juan Castañón ,Itzám Cano Chacal del Tamborazo
Released July 20, 2020. Digital only on Bandcamp.com
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