(All Album Reviews by Burgess Penguin)
David Torn:Guitar, Devices
A wonderful little gem from 1982, the Everyman Band introduced guitarist David Torn to the public at large as well as indicated a loosening of the ECM label's "mystical music of the spheres" production style and musical bent.
This adventurous collective started life as a backing band for Lou Reed and trumpeter Don Cherry. Deciding to strike out as its own creative entity, David Torn was bought into the fold, unleashing a dizzying variety of at times very un-guitar-like sounds and melodic ideas.
As a whole, the band covers a lot of rhythmic as well as harmonic and melodic range, pulling out everything from jarring odd-metered romps like "Morals In The Mud" to avant-funk like "The Mummy Club" to warp-speed swing like "On The Spot". Though certainly well grounded in free-improvisation, EB balances it with distinct and dare I say catchy (for avant-fusion) melody lines, even moreso, they capture the essence of the titles and plant vivid pictures in the listeners mind. The rhythm section is so flexible and elastic here, changing the character and feel of each song at the drop of a hat.
This is also noteworthy as a detailed peek into David Torn's developing voice as a guitarist and composer. Here, it seems he's pulling together the legato madness of Allan Holdsworth at times, stirring in Adrian Belew like non-guitarisms with the chordal vocabulary of a seasoned jazz player, and the raw experimental edge of Hendrix. In time, Torn would emerge as a distinct guitar stylist in his own right, but to see his style forming is a real treat. I especially love the way Dave interacts with saxophonist Marty Fogel, doing haunting unison phrases and frantic call-and-response phrases.
There is not one weak song on this release, although if I had to pick favorites, they would be "Japan Smiles" (with Dave tossing off everything from seagulls to frantic Coltrane like flights), "Lonely Streets" (sounding very much like if Hendrix and Coltrane collaborated on scoring a crime flick), and "The Mummy Club" with an insistent funky vamp and Dave's mysterious chordal sounds underlining Marty Fogel's plaintive sax work.
"Flatt Blatt" closes things out on a fun and bluesy note, while this may offend blues purists, this is a great fun track!
The only bad thing is that this release is a tiger to find (only issued on vinyl to my knowledge) but is more than worth seeking out. This is avant-funk-fusion at its wittiest and most original!