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Published: 2008/06/23
by Pat Buzby

Tiny Resistors – Todd Sickafoose

Cryptogramophone 138

Back in the '80s, a set of jazz artists emerged who surveyed the musical battlefield after the wars of the '60s and '70s (over free jazz and jazz/rock) and put together their own strategies for finding a way forward. Tiny Resistors indicates that the work of that era, with its attempts to deal with a large, conflicting set of musical resources, has itself become a resource for a newer generation. There are strong traces of Bill Frisell’s ambient, rural music, and occasional hints of John Zorn’s pastiches of soundtracks and exotica. Call it post-post-modern.

One reason to bring up that historical topic is that it’s not easy to write about this music. That is not a bad thing. Todd Sickafoose’s music yields subtle, sly pleasures the melodies are brief, but there’s just enough there to be striking. Appropriately for a Charlie Haden student, his bass playing sets a strong foundation with few notes. Aside from the dual-guitar Afro-funk of “Warm Stone,” the moods of his CD are wistful and cinematic.

A pair of notable guests appear: Andrew Bird contributes a handful of expressive violin solos (in a rapid, vibrato-laden style somewhat akin to Mahavishnu’s Jerry Goodman) while Sickafoose’s employer Ani DiFranco lends wordless textural vocals on two songs. The driving drumming of Allison Miller and Simon Lott also stands out, but it’s Sickafoose’s writing that leaves the strongest impression.

Tiny Resistors demonstrates that the post-post-modern era is not a bad place to be.

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