Thursday, January 09, 2014

The Young Mothers' "A Mother's Work Is Never Done"

Genre-ification is death. Like Oliver Lake's musical omnivore, I want all my food on the same plate. For my two cents, all record stores should categorize their music the way Waterloo in Austin does: alphabetically. (Although they do ghettoize "world music.")

But imagine, if you will, a group of "jazz" musicians who grew up in the hip-hop era and have fingers in several rockaroll pies, performing together in a situation where they can use all the materials that they bring to the table at will. Better still, don't imagine it. The Young Mothers will be at the Crown and Harp on Greenville next Thursday (January 16th), and you can hear them there.

I got a taste of their upcoming album via the estimable Oak Cliff-based percussion whiz Stefan Gonzalez (Yells At Eels/Akkolyte/Unconscious Collective). He's in the group, along with a couple of Houstonites, a couple of Austinites (one transplanted from Norway), and a ringer from the fertile Chicago jazz scene (the briskly swinging Frank Rosaly). The band is the brainchild of bassist Ingebrigt Haker Flaten, who seems to be everywhere these days (notably on last year's collaboration between the free jazz trio The Thing and dance music chanteuse Neneh Cherry) and composed most of the pieces on their debut. (There's also a film noir-ish cover of a Benjamin Britten piece, and an anthemic reading of an Ugandan folk melody.)

The album explodes out of the gate with "The 'Wood," in which dope hip-hop beats rub up against atonal freeblow squiggles, highlighted by multi-reedman Jason Jackson's blistering overblown overtones. "Mole'" hits like a Pharaoh Sanders samba -- this is levitation music, good for dancing on your feet as well as in your head, propelled by guest artists Mars Williams on soprano and Bob Hofnar's Sharrockian chaos-steel guitar. "Wells, the original" is an agreeable Zorn-esque collision of surf music, electronic static, Nine Inch Nails and Led Zeppelin. "Virgoan Ways" is less intense but equally multi-leveled, with a beguiling modal melody that unfolds slowly after a pensive vibraphone-percussion interlude.

A Mother's Work Is Never Done sounds like an early candidate for my end-of-2014 top ten list, and this show has the markings of an event of the season. You can't hear this much music for a five spot just anywhere.


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