The new album from NYC quartet Sunwatchers is a bold blend of free jazz and fusion. The propulsive rhythms of the tunes on Illegal Moves, out today via Trouble in Mind Records, suggest a real appreciation of rock-and-roll even as the instrumentation feels closer to, say, what one would find on a record from the tail-end of the hard bop era.
"New Dad Blues" is breezy, percussive funk-jazz, while the bouncy "Beautiful Crystals" is a neat blend of the sort of riffs that both Frank Zappa and King Crimson once rode to success. If the music here on this one is a bit more rock than jazz, the loose "Everybody Play" is more improvisational, horn-runs, guitar-skronks, and brush-work taking a listener back a few decades to an era when this sort of thing was more in vogue. Elsewhere, "Psychic Driving" is a descent into the tornado, shards of guitar carrying this thing through into the light, while closer "Strollin' Coma Blues" is, as its title suggests, nearly a blues number, albeit the form of the blues once practiced by the players in Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band.
The musicians here -- guitarist Jim McHugh, drummer Jason Robira, bassist Peter Kerlin, and Jeff Tobias on sax -- are on fire on every track on this one. A record that is super-easy to enjoy and which remains bravely iconoclastic, Illegal Moves is a blast, frankly. Fans of cool music, and superb musicianship should find this one an essential release, just like I did.
Illegal Moves is out today on Trouble in Mind Records.
More details on Sunwatchers via the band's official Facebook page.
[Photo: Uncredited promotional picture]