Jazz CD Reviews

The Jeff Gauthier Quintet – House of Return – Cryptogramophone

Label founder and post-bop violinist produces an estimable disc.

Published on August 26, 2008

The Jeff Gauthier Quintet – House of Return – Cryptogramophone
The Jeff Gauthier Quintet – House of Return – Cryptogramophone CG139, 56:16 ****:

(Jeff Gauthier – violin, electric violin, effects, percussion; Nels Cline – electric guitar, acoustic guitar, effects, percussion; David Witham – piano, keyboards, effects; Joel Hamilton – bass; Alex Cline – drums, percussion)

With his fourth disc as leader for Cryptogramophone, Gauthier plies his musical genius in certainly his most congenial setting.  Sometimes, I’m thinking, the fullest jazz expression just happens serendipitously.  Jeff Gauthier, founder and owner of Cryptogramophone, that iconoclastic Left Coast jazz label, has worked hard to build up a credible assemblage of jazz notables.  That he himself has, perhaps, suffered from seeking to optimally expose his not inconsiderable roster of jazz worthies shouldn’t deter true jazz aficionados from acquiring this remarkable disc.

On House of Return Gauthier pretty much lets it all hang out, with deeply mysterious numbers such as “I.O.A.” and “Dizang” to the more straightforwardly lushly Romantic excursions “Biko’s Blues” and the title cut, to outré bits such as “Friends of the Animals” and “Satellites and Sideburns.”  “Dissolution,” one supposes, ties it all together with the entirely attractive though certainly iconoclastic soundscape that evokes English pastoral composers Holst, Delius, and Warlock even as it assays Peter Garland-esque figures. 

Probably not for everyone, this disc nevertheless takes a stab at an almost Herculean palette of wild colors and sensibilities and generally comes out the other end with something eminently worth hearing.

TrackList: Biko’s Blues, Friends of the Animals, I.O.A., House of Return, Dizang, Satellites and Sideburns, Dissolution

– Jan P. Dennis

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