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May 2011

Led Bib
Bring Your Own
Cuneiform Records

Jazz and punk rock got in a fight, made up, got married and had an offspring named Led Bib. Mark Holub (drums), Liran Donin (electric and upright bass), Toby McLaren (Fender Rhodes electric piano), Pete Grogan (alto sax) and Chris Williams (alto sax) don’t make jazz, they don’t make rock and they don’t make fusion. This hunk of amalgamate called Bring Your Own—with its bits of jazz, rock, fusion, funk, punk and metal—is everything at once.

Five albums in, Led Bib still shocks. “Power Walking” starts like a 747 taking off, turns into a Henry Mancini composition by way of Metallica, twists into the Red Hot Chili Peppers circa 1988, and ends like two saxophones and a rhythm section emulating a nail gun with a stuck trigger. On “Moth Dilemma,” the saxophones blurt at each other, approximating dueling emergency sirens; McLaren swirls some odd noises from his Fender Rhodes and the bassist and drummer grind out a rhythm with grunge-metal cred.

McLaren’s pulsating keys sound like a flying saucer at takeoff as “Little x” begins, until Holub and Donin suddenly create a great big funk-rock backdrop that entices Grogan and Williams to blow with both soul and anger. “Service Stop Saviour” must be Led Bib’s idea of a ballad—its melody, if one can call it that, sounds like an interpolation of the opening bars of “’Round Midnight.” The saxophonists try with all their might to restrain themselves before finally saying, ah, forget it. Thrashing resumes.

Bring Your Own contains not an iota of swing, but it retains the essence of jazz: It is largely improvised, and it invigorates the soul. Duke Ellington was wrong. This ain’t got that swing, but it does mean a thing.

Originally published in May 2011
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