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The Lounge Art Ensemble: Music for Moderns

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Music for Moderns, the second release by the California-based Lounge Art Ensemble (saxophonist Bob Sheppard, bassist Dave Carpenter, drummer Peter Erskine), was inspired by a band led by Erskine’s father in the 1940s. The late Fred Erskine and His Music for Moderns would approve of this CD, which features his son’s heady drumming within an acoustic-trio format on early tracks like Erskine’s “Plan 9” and Sheppard’s “Did It Have To Be You?” and “Wouldn’t You?”

Things get even more modern midway through. Carpenter switches to an electric six-string bass for “Melatonin” and contributes an authoritative solo. He plays the same ax on Erskine’s “Reason To Believe,” which features the drummer’s effects-laden intro and middle break and Sheppard’s multiple reed overdubs. All three musicians, after all, have resumés that include time spent with some of the most open minds of the past 35 years-Erskine with Joe Zawinul and company in Weather Report, the session-seasoned Carpenter with guitarists like Scott Henderson and Andy Summers, and Sheppard with Chick Corea.

From mid-disc, the trio has the listener guessing. Only the title to Carpenter’s all-acoustic “Manic Tropical Depression” gives the false notion of post-Jimi Hendrix fusion. Sheppard’s swampy “Buckling Under” and energetic “Communal Solitaire” unearth influences from John Coltrane to Paul Desmond. Carpenter returns to the electric bass for his tune “Angel Dust,” which closes the CD with distinctively different sections. One is playful and fast-paced, the other somber and introspective; both are thoroughly intoxicating.