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Rob Foster with the Russian Dragon Band: How’s That

Georgian Rob Foster and friends are experimenting with nontraditional jazz forms. Foster’s How’s That (Hylozoic), a collection of band originals-mostly Foster’s-plus a send up of Roger Miller’s “King of the Road,” forces the listener to pay close attention just to see what might happen next. Following upon his nice modal/hard bop solo on “Hu-Yu,” Foster launches into the close to three minutes of squalling, screeching tenor with crashing cymbals, bombastic keyboard clusters, and other wild sounds that they cleverly call “Wreckerd.” On one track, Khabu-Doug Young may play a bouncy baritone ukulele solo and on another create ethereal sounds with a distorted guitar tone.

“Ice Cream” includes children’s cries and references to the Sesame Street theme. And just when it seems that “King of the Road” might be played straight, it becomes evident that the tune’s meter has been altered-before it abruptly switches to a Klezmer-like dance. But this music is not in the least a simple pastiche. The parts are all well integrated, as are the performers with each other.

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