Cavity Fang/ Urban Problems (Table and Chairs) – by Alain Drouot

19 Jul

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Cavity Fang is the brainchild of Bay Area keyboardist/composer Michael Coleman. The project is built around a trio of drummers (Hamir Atwal, Jordan Glenn, and Sam Ospovat) and adds two open-minded and versatile musicians from the jazz/improvised music scene: Ava Mendoza on guitar and Cory Wright on baritone saxophone and flute.

It is difficult to say whether the result is rock informed by jazz or the opposite – and an analysis of each track might bring a different answer each time. The anthemic nature of some of the songs and the riffs definitely borrow from the rock tradition while the way sound and sonorities are organized owes more to jazz.

The offbeat approach, jagged rhythms, and quirky melodies might be at times reminiscent of Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, who incidentally originated from San Francisco. But Cavity Fang’s musical palette extends beyond those confines. “100 canoes,” which features wright on flute, ventures in Eastern territory and “Rara” exploits the three-drummer concept to the fullest by generating a barrage of percussion.

At the difference of 1970s jazz-rock which was often characterized by never-ending solos and unabashed self-indulgence, today’s young musicians seem to have learned a lesson or two and prefer to use rock’s conciseness rather than bombast. This is why it is likely that listening to Cavity Fang 20 years from now will be just as rewarding.

One might have a quibble with Urban Problems, though. The relatively short running time (just over 30 minutes) will leave many craving for more. Hopefully, it will not take long before we hear from this intriguing band again.

Alain Drouot

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