June 2008

It's not hard for the producer to be forgotten when there are musicians such as guitarist Bill Frisell and drummer Matt Chamberlain running around getting all the credit. It's all too easy for people to notice the virtuoso talent of the players and forget they're not the only ones who had a hand in putting together what you're hearing - and that's why Blue Note supergroup Floratone was put together, a band which gives the same billing to its two producers Tucker Martine and Lee Townsend as to its two players. This is probably down to the way the record was put together, apparently Frisell and Chamberlain had a series of sessions together and sent all the recordings over to Martine and Townshend, who proceeded to chop and edit these jams into 'proper' tracks. On sending the tracks back to Frisell and Chamberlain they recorded more parts and brought in able help from Eyvind Kang (on viola), Ron Miles (on cornet) and Viktor Krauss (on bass) to add the finishing touches, and the results are quite astonishing. There is the shadow of Americana and classic folk emerging from Frisell and Chamberlain's carefully measured playing, but everything has been reframed by Martine and Townsend in such a way that you could almost be listening to an album of haunting soundscapes. It's rare to hear a jazz album (for want of a better term) with this kind of attention to detail, it's just a pleasure to listen to from beginning to end and somehow manages to avoid all the pitfalls of blending jazz and electronics by being straightforward and innovative without sacrificing any of the players' musical virtuosity. More than merely an experiment, this is an album which demands the immediate attention of those of you interested in the sound of modern jazz from the very fringes.