Everyman Band: Without Warning (ECM 1290)

 

Everyman Band
Without Warning

Marty Fogel tenor, soprano, alto saxophones, clarinet, flute
David Torn guitars, effects
Bruce Yaw electric bass
Michael Suchorsky drums, synthesizer
Recorded December 1984 at Bearsville Studios, Bearsville, New York
Engineer: Mark McKenna
Produced by Hans Wendl

After the mind-numbing crunch of the Everyman Band’s self-titled debut, and considering the title of this follow-up, little did I expect the sprightly charm of “Patterns Which Connect.” This smooth opener is as uplifting as heck, due not least to Bruce Yaw’s rubber band bass line Marty Fogel’s soaring tenor. “Talking With Himself,” on the other hand, seems to begin in the middle of a stream of improvisatory energy, but continues with an openness that is nothing if not welcoming. Guitarist David Torn grinds his axe on flint stone and spits plenty of flame, but is content in periodically laying down his torch so as not to obscure Michael Suchorsky’s keen drumming. Like a spoon through porridge, “Multibluetonic Blues” works viscous nourishment into edible consistency, blending the tenor saxophone’s soulful brown sugar crust before the searing heat can burn it black. “Celebration 7” sounds like a plugged klezmer tune and shows the band in fine attunement, as does the whimsy of “Trick Of The Wool.” The album’s most appropriate title comes from “Huh What He Say,” which from an initial drawl finds linguistic traction in Fogel’s throwback of a solo. “Al Ur” caps things off with another vibrant sponge that soaks up all of the goodness that surrounds it.

This could easily be described as a killer of an album, were it not for the fact that it gives rather than takes life away. Along with Neighbourhood and Travels, it is among ECM’s more feel-good albums. Like a comedy of manners disguised as a film noir, it titillates behind an artful gloss.

<< Keith Jarrett Trio: Standards, Vol. 2 (ECM 1289)
>> Oregon: Crossing (ECM 1291)

Everyman Band: s/t (ECM 1234)

ECM 1234

Everyman Band

Michael Suchorsky drums
David Torn guitar
Bruce Yaw bass
Marty Fogel saxophones
Recorded March 1982 at Talent Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher

What began as Lou Reed’s backing in the seventies stepped out on its own as Everyman Band, recording this self-titled debut for ECM in 1982. If a group is only as good as its musicians, then the name is a contradiction: not everyone possesses the firepower of Michael Suchorsky on drums, David Torn on guitar, Bruce Yaw on bass, and Marty Fogel on saxophones. The latter brings his idiomatic flair with three originals. Torn steals the show in “Lonely Streets,” a smoldering trek through nocturnal fires and other hidden conflagrations. Fogel spikes this punch with his own choice poisons. Yaw keeps up at every turn of phrase, and keeps us “On the Spot” with a memorable bass line, around which Fogel herds Torn’s flock in tight circuits. “Fatt Blatt” weighs in with a heavy tenor solo before the quartet pulls its best funk off the rack in a monochromatic swing. Yaw has his moment in the sun before diving back into the vamp with a vengeance.

Torn hones in with two clicks of his own. “Morals in the Mud” opens the album with a bang, his Strat popping the bubble of our attention with a neon pin, while “The Mummy Club” gives off an airier vibe. A slap bass distinguishes this wobbly palate-cleanser from the rest, as Fogel surfs Torn’s mighty chordal crashes with finesse. Suchorsky and Yaw churn out one tune apiece. “Japan Smiles” has a deeper, headier sound and features some fantastic bass/sax interaction. “Nuclear Suite,” on the other hand, is less direct, and speaks in tongues over a vast dynamic breadth. The appearance of a soprano sax lightens the load considerably. Playful, jaunty rhythms abound, overturning post-apocalyptic rubble for clues to a hidden past. Torn elbows his way through with an incisive solo. Like a slingshot of light into the evening sky for want of a meteor shower, it trails with unnaturally prolonged fire.

Everyman Band
(Photo by Ralph Quinke)

This album is an all-around solid effort brimming with guttural, after-midnight sounds that are iconic of the very era they tear to shreds. The band’s style is both distant and in our faces. The group shot on the back of LP jacket says it all: a relatively clear foreground lights the naked streets against an impossibly distorted backdrop in a single instantaneous image.

<< Chick Corea: Trio Music (ECM 1232/33)
>> Hajo Weber/Ulrich Ingenbold: Winterreise (ECM 1235)