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Bouncy and Free Coexist in Jon Lundbom’s Big Five Chord

The avant guitarist explores free jazz without losing the groove

Big Five Chord's Jon Lundblom
Jon Lundblom (photo by: Bryan Murray)

When guitarist Jon Lundbom recalls what has fired his imagination, he frequently talks about music that “blew my mind.” Three specific examples have inspired the writing for his band Big Five Chord. The first is Focus, the 1962 Stan Getz album that put the tenor saxophonist’s improvisations in the midst of Eddie Sauter’s written works for orchestra. The second is Ornette Coleman, whose disregard for chord changes liberated Lundbom. Third is Voodoo, the 2000 neo-soul album by D’Angelo that featured jazz musicians such as Roy Hargrove and toyed with beat placement and polyrhythms. On Lundbom’s ninth album with BFC, Harder on the Outside (Hot Cup), all these influences blend together in satisfying ways; engaging melodies and free-jazz interplay combine, without losing a sense of groove.

“A lot of people have written that my playing in Big Five Chord is free bop, which it can be at times,” Lundbom says. “I think that’s the Ornette Coleman influence. It’s going to be jazz but we’re going to do something other than just follow chord changes.”

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Mike Shanley

Mike Shanley has been a lifelong resident of Pittsburgh and gladly welcomes any visitors to the city, most likely with a cup of coffee in one hand. Over the years, he has written for several alternative weekly papers and played bass guitar in several indie rock bands. He currently writes for the bi-weekly paper Pittsburgh Current and maintains a blog at