Bassist Lightcap — a man with an impressive resume including collaborations with Marc Ribot, Joe Morris and Sheila Jordan — writes lushly articulated pieces that are also utterly understandable, with unmistakable references to the past organized according to an appreciable contemporariness leaving the players free to express themselves while remaining anchored within the compositional configuration. This incarnation of Bigmouth features a triplet of saxophonists (Chris Cheek, Tony Malaby, Andrew D’Angelo), Craig Taborn on Wurlitzer and regular piano, Gerald Cleaver on drums and the leader on his main instrument.
There’s a piece of meat for everyone in this lively disc. My own favorite is the introspective “Year Of The Rooster”, a delight for these ears with its sad, long chords moving over a tranquil-yet-problematic pulse. “Silvertone” is a slow song in three, characterized by a kind of semi-drunk vibe; the reeds work at the limits of intonation in a tune that might be used as a soundtrack for the parody of a strip-tease number. The subsequent “Ting” recalls, strangely enough, Soft Machine in some of the reiterative figurations performed by Taborn, but the harmonic progression is somehow reminiscent of Frank Zappa’s “Peaches En Regalia”. “The Clutch” made me think — and I still can’t understand why — of Burt Bacharach. The scent, maybe: all those intertwining sax lines and that bass riff wandering on the pentagram, up and down, down and up. “Deluxe Version” is another darling, a mix of hospitable technical knots, quasi-memorizable themes and great soloing which ends too soon.
The overall sense is one of inspiration and divertissement. Nothing that could be classified as transcendental but the music is always enjoyable and vivid, gifted with a subtle humor that delivers it from constraint and idiomatic rigidity. It doesn’t lack contemplative openings either, and this reciprocation of moods appears as a very intelligent choice. An album that sounds spontaneous, offering various reasons of contentment through well-conceived and dexterously executed arrangements.