Album: Magnetic Ear, Aliens of Extraordinary Ability (2010)
Musicians: Martin Krusche, Michael Watson, Wes Andersonn IV, Dan Oestreicher, Jason Jurzak, Paul Thibodeaux
?The thing that is making jazz healthy today is that people are coming out of other backgrounds?from rock, folk, from ethnic music. It’s changing the music, and for the better.?
Insatiable Consumers and Ingenious Creators of Multiple-Genre Jazz
Magnetic Ear is a six-piece brass band based in New Orleans. Aliens of Extraordinary Ability is their third album. By all accounts these guys have come a long way?from being a kind of sonic crazy quilt to developing into accomplished musical craftsmen who nonetheless maintain an incredible vitality and inventiveness.
This album is an exuberant dance hall crammed with blues, dub, bebop, jump, rhythm and blues, avant garde, funk, klezmer, tango, Dixieland, gospel, blaxploitation film soundtracks, and dissonant Zappaesque unison runs demonstrating a startling level of virtuosity and synchronization.
There are humorous elements in the music itself, mostly in the more Dixieland call and response sections, as well as in some of the wittier song titles (like ?Dodge This, Ninja!? and ?Funeral for a Lizard?).
In the midst of all the booty-shaking tracks there are a few thoughtful moments too, like in ?Maus,? the one track that includes the spoken word. It is an ambient musical background to a poem written and spoken by Raymond ?Moose? Jackson in a style similar to beatnik poetry but more clearly coherent and sophisticated, like Jim Morrison with a shirt on.
Why should artists listen to this album? It educates the musical ear because the quality is so superb, the genres so varied, and the playing so inspired. Such stuff is like a multivitamin for the neurons, inciting a flow of ideas.
And, as Alex from A Clockwork Orange might say, it inspires great viddying.
Aliens of Extraordinary Ability manifests five of The Mindful Bard’s criteria for music well worth a listen: 1) it is authentic, original, and delightful; 2) it makes me want to be a better artist; 3) it gives me tools which help me be a better artist; 4) it provides respite from a sick and cruel world, a respite enabling me to renew myself for a return to mindful artistic endeavour; and 5) it stimulates my mind.