Chris Lightcap – Superette (2018)

Chris Lightcap - Superette (2018)
Artist: Chris Lightcap
Album: Superette
Genre: Modern Creative, Contemporary Jazz
Origin: USA
Released: 2018
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps
Tracklist:
Selector 02:50
She Walked In 03:18
Far Away Planet 05:12
While You Were Out 06:59
Djali 05:54
Calling on Cars 06:55
Ace of Spades 04:44
Light Trails 05:47
All Come to Meet Her 04:49
Frozen Bread 04:49
Birds 04:14

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As much as bassist, composer and bandleader Chris Lightcap had often tugged at the limits of jazz with compositions and arrangements that often went in modern, avant-garde and fusion directions, he usually managed to stay tethered to a post-bop sensibility. His Bigmouth supergroup was his vehicle for that creative outlet of his and that project has recently reaped him some well-deserved accolades. But with Superette, jazz — as well as his acoustic bass — is pretty much tossed out of the window for something completely different.

For starters, you wouldn’t expect to cue up a Lightcap album and the first song you hear is a three-minute tune that sounds like it could have come from the Ventures (“Selector”), but that’s only the opening salvo in showing other sides of Lightcap.

Lightcap put together a new ensemble for his new adventure, one featuring two guitarists — Curtis Hasselbring and Jonathan Goldberger — with Dan Rieser on drums and the leader solely on electric bass guitar. Together, they run through a fare of mostly originals from Lightcap and Hasselbring, incorporating elements of surf, psy trance, even harmolodics.

Often evoking the laid back, psychedelic jams of the late 60s as much as the surf guitar of Link Wray, slowly percolating tracks like “While You Were Out” and “Calling On Cars” take its time riding on the groove. Hasselbring and Goldberger engage in some funky back and forth on the former’s “Frozen Bread” on a rhythm locked down tight by Lightcap and Rieser. With his Superette band, one thing Lightcap does carry over from his jazz projects is his balance of looseness and concordance: for “She Walked In” he cooked up tricky lead lines he plays in unison with the guitars and later, a Wurlitzer organ solos away but concludes it by sharing a pattern with Goldberger.

Did I mention there was an organ player on that song? Why, yes: About half the tracks are adorned with guest organ from John Medeski and/or a third guitar from Nels Cline, two well-known characters who are comfortable in any imaginable setting. The two are first heard together on “Far Away Planet,” a simple, three chord riff with a thumping backbeat and a cacophony of three guitars and organ engaging in an all-out jam. Cline also joins Hasselbring and Goldberger for some Mali trance on “Djali” (streamed above), where the attraction is the tightly interwoven lead lines and the shimmering strums. It’s hard to ignore that pumping Lightcap/Rieser rhythm section, though.

“Ace Of Spades” goes about its business in the normal way of other tunes on this record until Cline steps in with a wiggly solo that brings the song to a crash ending. His final contribution comes in the form of a rare turn at lap steel guitar, on “Light Trails,” where Medeski pours on a soulful slab of Hammond B3.

The album concludes with Neil Young’s gorgeous ballad “Bird,” using Hasselbring’s and Goldberger’s twangy guitars to tease out more of the country aspect of the song that was only implied in the original, and then surprisingly, Lightcap uncorks a fuzz bass that’s suggestive of Young’s Crazy Horse side.
by S. Victor Aaron