August 19, 2005
When I heard that acoustic guitar madman and musical iconoclast Eugene Chadbourne had recorded a disc of jazz covers by Count Basie, Oliver Lake, Eric Dolphy, Sun Ra, Roscoe Mitchell, and John Coltrane, my interest was definitely piqued. Had Chadbourne rented a tux and hired some straight-ahead session cats? Hardly. As he discloses in the very amusing and entertaining liner notes, the musicians that appear on the CD were assembled in “random” fashion. They include ex-Camper Van Beethoven drummer Richie West, tenor sax man Brian Walsh, flautist and cornet player Dan Clucas, harmonica tormentor Bill Barrett, and wacko electric guitarist Carey Fosse. Chadbourne plays a vintage Gibson acoustic that he borrowed from (film director) Wes Craven on most tracks, and banjo on the others. This improvisatory grouping brilliantly disassembles and reconstructs the compositions in a manner that is simultaneously absurd and supremely compelling, making for one of the most engaging and fun musical excursions I’ve been on this year. Boxholder.