Inbox Jukebox Track of the Day: The Bitches Brew-like Zoner "Four" by Seattle Jazz Duo Bad Luck
Bad Luck, "Four" (Origin). Seattle duo Bad Luck—saxophonist/loop manipulator Neil Welch and drummer Chris Icasiano—have been making jazz fiery again over the last few years. They generate a lot of heat and fury for two people, and their live performances have been whirlwinds of inventive energy and technical mastery—chaos harnessed to masterly, artful ends. Bad Luck's crusade to turn experimental-music heads onto jazz has gone smashingly, making their story one of the most encouraging in local music.
On August 17, Bad Luck are dropping their fourth album, Four, which was co-produced by Randall Dunn and the group. And while I just spent the last paragraph hyping the band's more turbulent aspects, you should know that they also excel at more pensive, restrained approaches. The six-track full-length actually focuses just as much on those sort of (relatively) chill compositional strategies. Don't get it twisted, though: Four isn't even close to smooth jazz.
The title track is a serene zoner that tumbles forth fascinatingly via Icasiano's oddly metered tom-tom slaps. Welch is in heroic form on the sax, aspirating a motif that sounds as if it could be a fanfare for a skydiving excursion. About midway through, Bad Luck strip things down to cymbal taps, faint tom rumbles, and languorous saxophone sighs, before swirling back into a Bitches Brew-esque storm. There's a nice symmetrical logic to the piece, which proves that Bad Luck don't need to explode in all directions to rivet your attention.