Jazz CD Reviews

Todd Sickafoose – Tiny Resistors – Cryptogramophone

Fascinatingly textured, layered chamber jazz/West Coast weirdness

Published on August 13, 2008

Todd Sickafoose – Tiny Resistors – Cryptogramophone

Todd Sickafoose – Tiny Resistors – Cryptogramophone CG138, 68:27 ****1/2:

(Todd Sickafoose – acoustic & electric bass, piano, Wurlitzer, vibraphone, marimba, bells, celeste, accordion through a Leslie; Shane Endsley – trumpet; Ben Wendel – tenor sax, bassoon; Alan Ferber – trombone; Skerik – baritone sax; Adam Levy – guitar, acoustic guitar; Mike Gamble – guitar, effects; Allison Miller – drums & percussion; Simon Lott – drums & percussion; Andrew Bird – violin & looping, whistling; Ani DiFranco – voice, telephone mic, electric ukulele)

Though he now lives in Brooklyn, it’s impossible to consider Sickafoose as anything but a Left Coast jazzer.  After all, that’s where his roots lie: There’s just too much loping, loopy, eclectic-eccentric fading-hippy jive going on here to regard him as anything else.   Who else would combine dreamy, plodding, psychedelic/electronic vocalese with a Flamenco vibe (“Bye Bye Bees”)?  No one, that’s who.   Though there’s a pronounced heartlandish vibe (“Future Flora,” “Everyone Is Going,” “Cloud of Dust”), he would never be mistaken him for Frisell or Haden.  For one thing, he favors highly textured, even mannered, music (“Warm Stone,” “Paper Trombones,” “Tiny Resistors”)—something Frisell and Haden don’t necessarily eschew, but his conceptual and tonal oddities (e.g., “Tiny Resistors”) casually trump even their bravest efforts.  

He’s assembled a hugely responsive and diverse band with relatively unknown greats (Allison Miller on drums and percussion, rising star Mike Gamble on Guitar, and future trumpet giant Shane Endsley) who evoke original, even outrageous, soundscapes that manage to be simultaneously poignant, profound, and mysterious (“Barnacle ,” “Invisible Ink”).  A possible caveat: This music may be more glib than luminous, despite initial perceptions.  But I’m not hedging my bet:  Todd Sickafoose is onto something, and savvy listeners will want to connect with him sooner than later.

TrackLsist: Future Flora, Invisible Ink, Bye Bye Bees, Pianos of the 9th Ward; Everyone Is Going; Cloud of Dust; Warm Stone; Paper Trombones; Whistle; Tiny Resistors; Barnacle

– Jan P. Dennis

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