September 2006

Locked in a Basement

The surly looking gents in Heernt resemble a trio of indie rockers more likely to grace the pages of JazzTimes’ sister magazine, Harp. But CDs, of course, shouldn’t be judged by their covers. Drummer Mark Guiliana, also a member of bassist Avishai Cohen’s trio, plays with an authority that could suit jazz or thrash. He also contributes most of the far-flung writing. Bassist Neal Persiani moves easily between smooth accompaniment, distorted lines, and riffs low enough to make any set of woofers tremble. Zac Colwell handles a number of different reeds as well as keyboards.

While their musical chemistry is never in doubt, the results aren’t always consistent. Along with a slow, engrossing ballad (“Aaaahh…”) and punk-jazz blip (“Johnny2Rocketime”), the group assumes wacky ideas will sustain their music. A typewriter cleverly sets the title track’s rhythm, but once Persiani picks up on the monotone groove, all the trio adds to it is an unexciting keyboard drone and a backbeat. The repetitive tenor melody of “Nice” sounds like a practice lick and is just as enjoyable.

The suitelike “Brown Bird, Olives Sloth, Green Dragon” and jumpy “Pi~3.1415” reveal a group that can harness a sense of adventure and strong chops, but they need to tweak the writing before they get to the next level.

Originally published in September 2006
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