COMPOSERS: Cardigans,Prince,Sly and the Family Stone,Smashing Pumpkins,the Beatles
LABELS: Sony Jazz
ALBUM TITLE: Sex Mob
PERFORMER: Steven Bernstein (slide t), Briggan Krauss (as), Tony Scherr (b), Kenny Wollensen (d) with guest appearances by John Medeski (org), Adam Levy and London McDaniels (g)
CATALOGUE NO: CK 69432
Duke Ellington complained, 50 years ago, that the term ‘jazz’ was limiting, that if his music was called something else – anything other than jazz – it would stand a better chance of going beyond the normal constituency for jazz to engage with a broader listenership. Today, that argument is truer than ever. For the last 15 years jazz has meant, to the big record companies at least, the accessible hard-bop mainstream of the Fifties. This, together with the emergence of young, photogenic musicians, has artificially re-centred jazz around virtuosic recapitulation.
Enter Sex Mob, an antidote to the current anodyne jazz scene. The name is intended to force audiences to consider its music on its own terms, to eliminate preconceptions – a jazz group called Sex Mob? Impossible! And it looks like it is working: it has been No. 3 in the college jazz charts with no promotion. Sex Mob is an archetypal Downtown band that has taken familiar tunes and deconstructed them with relish; numbers by Prince, Sly and the Family Stone, the Beatles, Smashing Pumpkins and the Cardigans are all grist to their mill. The result? One of the most refreshing bands to appear in the renascent Nineties. Stuart Nicholson