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Todd Clouser’s A Love Electric : 20th Century Folk Selections

Calling this record 20th Century Folk Selections may be a bit of a stretch-it includes more rock songs than anything else-but guitarist Todd Clouser’s point is clear: Anything, especially popular music, can become the basis for jazz-minded improvisation.

His band A Love Electric has a big, fat sound. There are two keyboard players-Mark Aanderud on piano and Bryan Nichols on Fender Rhodes-plus trumpet (Adam Meckler), trombone (Rick Parker), bass (Aaron Cruz), drums (Hernan Hecht) and percussion (Cyro Baptista). A cover of Malvina Reynolds’ 1962 tune “Little Boxes” is turned into a slab of foreboding metal interspersed with bits of funk. A slow take of Buddy Holly’s “Everyday” transforms the 1957 hit so much that you’d be hard-pressed to find the melody in it; with extra help from trumpeter Steven Bernstein, it’s just a chordal backdrop for Clouser’s lyrical soloing. A psychedelic, amped-up rendition of the Beastie Boys’ “Gratitude” serves up a double-fisted electric crunch of guitar and Rhodes overlaid with funky piano and, later, Clouser’s shredding. A redo of Neil Young’s “The Needle and the Damage Done” is all hazy and druggy, with sleepy guitar work, a distorted electric piano and nonchalant drumming.

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