You thought there couldn't be any more segmentation in the music scene‚ too‚ didn't you? But Skerik‚ Mike Dillon‚ and Brad Houser used to throw multiple genres into the blender when they were with Critters Buggin‚ and they're doing more of the same as the Dead Kenny G's. Ladies and gentlemen‚ I give you Operation Long Leash: The first-ever appearance of… Death Jazz!
Okay‚ that's not what they call their music‚ but I think the parallel with Death Metal is apt. Just as Death Metal is for headbangers who think established monsters like Metallica and Iron Maiden don't go nearly far enough‚ Death Jazz makes the latest forays by Kneebody and Chris Potter Underground sound utterly placid. Fuck turning it up to 11 -- the G's tack a zero onto that sucker!
Take the opener "Devil's Playground‚" which is built around a Fender Rhodes-and-vibes figure that is both powerful and mesmerizing. Dillon's drums are pretty damn big‚ but that's nothing compared to the explosion that happens in mid-tune‚ when it seems like 70's-era Genesis drops through the skylight and crushes the G's. Organ‚ synth‚ and HUGE drums are prevalent‚ but they kind of have to be‚ because that opening figure was revisited three times before‚ forcing the listener to ask‚ "What happens now?" Armageddon‚ that's what!
The fireworks continue throughout Long Leash‚ and not always in a bad way. "Black Death" is either a new Rage Rock single or a great Red Hot Chili Peppers parody; you make the call. "Luxury Problems" lets Skerik take his homicidal tenor sax out for a spin‚ overcoming one of many grooves that seem styled for the Rave from Hell. He also comes in screaming over Dillon's righteous timbales on "Sweatbox" (co-written by Matt Chamberlain of Critters Buggin)‚ and Houser's bari sax on "Black 5" has a marvelous growl that infuses the tune with a cool cop-show vibe.
But then there's the schizophrenic "Melvin Jones‚"‚the built-by aliens "Bucky Balls‚" and the almost-Eastern "Black Budget‚" all of which try hard but fall flat. Charlie Hunter's guest guitar gets completely lost on the mightily funked-up "Black Truman." (Fun Fact: Almost half of the titles begin with "Black.") You can dance to it‚ but be sure you have health insurance before you start.
As with Death Metal‚ there'll be those for whom Operation Long Leash lights the right bonfire. The beat is unrelenting‚ and the muscle is undeniable. To my mind‚ though‚ the Dead Kenny G's try way too hard to live up to their name‚ and that kills Death Jazz before it even starts.
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