Fabris; Dave "Knife" - Featuring Ran Blake: Lettuce Prey
Puntacular, that's the first impression from the Dave "Knife" Fabris album Lettuce Prey. From the word play to the Cos lettuce being "threateningly" grasped by female hands which adorns the cover, you know immediately that what this veteran of the NYC and Boston Rock scene isn't about to serve up, is something straight forward...
...and so it proves, for Lettuce Prey is "supported equally by the three legs of Rock, Jazz and Classical", and whether that ethos is flitted through from song to song, or within each individual composition, it is a belief which shapes every genre jumping moment. Unsurprisingly for such diverse material, the list of players here is longer than the seventeen songs that make up the track listing, with tuba and trombone rubbing gently alongside Hammond B3, guitar and drums. However other than Fabris himself it is pianist (and Hammonder) Ran Blake who makes the strongest mark, his classy contributions appearing on just under half of the songs. Vocals are largely absent, Ilona Tipp offering up a jagged soaring, swooping challenge on the loungy Jazz of "Nightcrawler", while Maria Tegzes infuses the gentle acoustic work of "Arrorro" and chaotic crash of "Chacarera" with an operatic voice that punches through with ease. Leaving "Assemblage" to dance madly through stabs of brass and multiple time changes as Rachel Stern adds a seductive Bluesy edge that you really hadn't expected.
Now if that sounds eclectic, then you haven't heard the half of it yet, with the instrumentals, "Mood Indigo", "String Quartet no.2", "Gyp The Blood Or Hearst, Which Is Worst?!", or "Horace Is Blue" careening madly from light, yet brooding Jazz to Progressive, heavy Fusion, via what sounds like a macabre barn dance, to beautiful piano constructions. It all makes for a hugely ambitious piece which often threatens to buckle under its own intentions, while ensuring that it will be only the adventurous of spirit who stick the course.
There's more than enough to entice the average Jazz fan to lend an ear, oodles of craziness which will invite the more avant-garde aboard, and a smattering of earth shattering smacks which will cause the more adventurous of the Rock brigade to prick up their ears. Yet, there's no way of knowing just how many followers of those disparate scenes will have the breadth of tastes, or strength of will to stick things out through the genre thick and the stylistic thin. In itself that's not a criticism and actually it is closer to being a compliment, however can I hand on heart recommend Lettuce Prey? Indeed I can, but only with the warning that it is a try before you buy type of release and one where sampling the numerous flavours on offer is recommended before you take the plunge. However be rest assured that even those moments not so much to your taste are indeed executed superbly. Is that enough? Only you can decide...
2. Haitian Fight Song / Merci Bon Dieu (feat. Ran Blake)
4. Scythian Suite (feat. Ran Blake)
5. Nightcrawler (feat. Ran Blake)
6. Gyp the Blood or Hearst, Which Is Worst?
7. Horace Is Blue (feat. Ran Blake)
8. Very Early
9. Sadness (feat. Ran Blake)
10. Ginastera String Quartet N°2
13. Prokofiev Intro - Piano Outtake (feat. Ran Blake)
14. Down Here Below (feat. Ran Blake)
15. Sabre Dance
17. Mood Indigo (feat. Ran Blake)
Added: June 15th 2014
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Dave Fabris online
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