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David Fiuczynski: Flam! Blam! Pan-Asian MicroJam!

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David “Fuze” Fiuczynski dedicates his latest opus, Flam! Blam! Pan-Asian MicroJam!, to Olivier Messiaen and the late hip-hop innovator J Dilla. The opening song is called “Loon-Y Tunes.” This is one of the most disciplined, finely crafted records he’s ever made.

Messiaen was fascinated with birdcalls and sought to emulate their rhythm and tonality in his passionately colorful music. One of the ways Dilla was ahead of his time sonically was his deployment of “flam”-drums hits so close together the beat has a crisp reverb. Fuze, the double-necked guitar god best known for leading the often-scabrous Screaming Headless Torsos before essentially founding the Planet MicroJam Institute at Berklee, ambitiously seeks to bring it all together. “Loon-Y Tunes” and a handful of other song-movements feature actual field recordings of the five birds, including the lowing blues of the Common Loon and the lilt and staccato-shriek of the Carolina Chickadee. Fiuczynski weaves in his transcriptions of these bird-sounds and rhythms, as played by a band that includes many of his microtonal-savvy students from the Institute. Their instrumentation includes microtonal keys (plus an old-fashioned Rhodes) and an Asian-style oboe known as a suona, plus violin, fretless bass, drums and Chinese percussion.

The result is music that contains a unique sparkle and yet frequently and successfully strives for a calming effect. It is a simple yet enjoyable revelation to hear how Fuze’s arrangements ape the birds, and even more fun to hear him cut loose in Asian and European modes, as on his trippy then plundering solo for “Oiseaux JDillique.” The last few tracks-the Blam! segments-bring in fiery alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, comfortable with bird and Bird calls, and he contributes mightily to the grand aviary finale (“Loon-ly Solitaire”) after tarting up “Uira Happy Jam.”

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Originally Published