(138) DR, The Absolute Sound -- September 2008

 A former Bay Area MVP bassist who shifts easily between jazz, pop, and contemporary bluegrass, Brooklyn-based Todd Sickafoose folds the musical wisdom gleaned from his myriad experiences into his third album as leader, creating a deeply satisfying cross-genre blend that blurs boundaries without dissolving into faceless fusion.

The core band is trumpeter Shane Endsley, tenor saxophonist Ben Wendel, trombonist Alan Ferber, violinist Andrew Bird, and guitarists Adam Levy and Mike Gamble, with Allison Miller and Simon Lott sharing drumming and percussion duties. Skerik blows bari sax on two tracks, and the voice and electric uke of Ani DiFranco (the bassist's recent employer) show up on another. Bill Frisell's music is the closest jazz analog to Sickafoose's melodic, guitar-driven, and violin-accented instrumental Americana. But bits of blues and funk crop up in the rhythms and solos, and when Suckafoose adds his own piano, Wurlitzer, vibes, marimba, bells, celesta, and accordion, a post-rock aesthetic takes hold.

There's a slight gloss to the sonics, but lots of air between spaciously arranged instruments, a lusckous resonance to the acoustic bass, and nicely muted brightness to the acoustic guitar, violin, brass, percussion, and (on one track) whistling. Repeated listening receals new details in this fascinating tapestry of texture. -by DR

The Absolute Sound
September 2008