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December 2001

Mike Clark/Paul Jackson/Marc Wagnon
Conjunction
Buckyball Records

Led by the three musicians whose names grace the spine, Conjunction revolves around the musician's snaky, M-Base-like rhythmic concept. Mike Clark's kit is the seminal element, shifting time and filling space. Paul Jackson edges in with his bloodlessly funky electric bass, and vibist Marc Wagnon makes sure that the harmonic aspect to the music stays as percussive as possible. Saxophonists Jed Levy and Chris Speed, trombonist Josh Roseman and electric guitarist Dave Fiuczynski all drop in and play on multiple tracks, but the eponymous rhythm section fashion the music's core (with occasional help from Fiuczynski).

On his occasional solo turns, Speed goes his own way, but thanks to Roseman and Fiuczynski, the music never really veers from a brawny, busy and thick fusion sound. The themes are long, complex and not entirely easy to warm up to; the soloists aren't given a lot to chew on; and the rhythm section seems only tenuously attached to its front-line horns-at times it sounds as if they're playing in different rooms. The better tunes on the recording tend to better integrate Clark, Jackson and Wagnon with the rest of the band. The title tune, based around an ostinato pattern in Wagnon's vibes, does just that.

The music on Conjunction manages to wring all the booty-shaking impulse out of funk rhythms, which makes it a more interesting listen than an enjoyable one.

Originally published in December 2001
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