Monday, November 22, 2010

Lucky 7s: Chicago/New Orleans Big Beat

Lucky 7s (group; formed 2006)
Pluto Junkyard (Clean Feed; 2009)

Jeff Albert (trombone)
Jeb Bishop (trombone)
Josh Berman (cornet)
Jason Adasiewicz (vibes)
Quin Kirchner (drums)
Matthew Golombisky (bass)
Keefe Jackson (sax)

Lucky 7s are an incredible ensemble that has somehow merged the vibrant, gritty and ethereal aspects of both their native cities (Chicago and New Orleans) into an intoxicating yet accessible concoction that is well worth seeking out.

Developed by Jeb Bishop and Jeff Albert in 2006--featuring fellow chicago members from other bands, they then were joined by Matthew Golombisky and Quin Kirchner who migrated to Chicago, originally to perform with the others members on a few dates. This turned into a full-fledged band later that year.

Lucky 7s has a similar sound in line with other Chicago bands (Vandermark 5, Exploding Star Orchestra, Chicago Underground, etc.) but this group seem to find another way to turn what looks similar into something completely different. A well balanced and well placed focus on driving brass rhythms combined with spacey free from atmospherics sets this ensemble apart from its Chicago neighbors (of whom some members do belong actually).

The band debuted in 2006 with Farragut (Lakefront Digital), a fierce attack of complex arrangements and mood changes that made clear that Jeb Bishop and Jeff Albert were terrific song writers outside the groups they performed in regularly. While Lucky 7s is loosely led by Bishop and Albert, each member is allowed to express themselves in this septet.

Pluto Junkyard (Clean Feed) is the groups second album and advances the sound and structures even further. The album is jubilantly moved along by the perfection of Jason Adasiewicz on vibes and stellar work by Keefe Jackson on sax. Adasiewicz adventurous other world soundscapes and Jackson's muscular dexterity add real colour to the proceedings as apparent on "Culrual Baggage" and "Future Dog".

The somber yet beauty "Afterwords" is an emotional meditation on the originals of the band--developing as a result of members Albert, Golombisky and Kirchner moving to Chicago after Hurricane Katrina. This is well documented if you already follow the band it is significant in that the roots of both New Orleans and Chicago jazz live harmoniously through Lucky 7s. "Afterwords" displays this richly through the what could almost be journey walking down a New Orleans street in the aftermath. The basslines from Golombisky are haunting and easily detached you from session to fill you emotions of sorrow and the hope that follows.

"The Dang Hang" is smoldering piece as the liner notes state based around a late night bender possibly? Either way, its a fantastic divergence for the album in a more hyper-rock, free jazz mode. It's fun and show the band can really let rip when it needs too. The always reliable and creative Jeb Bishop takes up electric guitar for this piece with unbelievable results. But "The Dang Hang" has so many changing parts it makes for fascinating listening. The trombone interaction with Adasiewicz's vibes is beauty laid in the middle of the piece and resets the band for a nail-biting conclusion.

"Sunny's Bounce" is nice ode to psyched out sounds that influence Lucky 7s (mainly being Sun Ra) but also the New Orleans legends take flight here as well. It's a gentle midtmepo number creating number hip patterns that will keep your feet tapping but with an interchanging of "what was that note" mixed in. "Sunny's Bounce" is jumping, fresh, but yet interwoven with enough free thought that is not just a homage as it is a statement of intention.

Lucky 7s hopefully is a group that these members will continue to come back to in addition to their usual gigs. Pluto Junkyard definitely stands apart from its Chicago counterparts as a vehicle infusing the roots of two great jazz towns but it also show the immense talents of the entire outfit. This band could easily be making as many records as V5 or CU in the coming years. If you get a chance definitely venture out Lucky 7s..

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