Skerik's Syncopated Taint Septet Skerik's Syncopated Taint Septet

Skerik's Syncopated Taint Septet features one of the worst covers I've seen this year, and might give potential buyers the wrong impression of overt goofiness. Don't you believe it. The Septet is a five-horn armada (two baritone saxes!) plus a very versatile keyboardist and drummer. The compositions and horn arrangements have a great deal of hooks, angularity and above all variety, bringing to mind some very esteemed modern arrangers for medium sized bands : Monk, David Murray, and Henry Threadgill. This is a live recording in the backroom of a bar, so the aim is obviously to please a crowd, but that doesn't temper any of the exploration. After a "free” opening, the Septet get down to "Philadelphia" demonstrating that drummer John Wicks has definitely explored his Roots. He's excellent at maintaining hip-hop grooves, although elsewhere he sounds like he's trying to keep up when the tempo accelerates. The horns play in great, united smears, sounding like a constantly mutating sample overtop the grooves. All five of them move easily from smooth riffs to collective improvising or blazing solo sections. Steve Moore's electric keyboards are another highlight, sometimes playing the rhythm role that a guitar might take on, other times travelling to different Sun Ra or Chick Corea-style motifs. "Bus Barn" is the greatest example of this, with pitch bend effects that are disorienting yet still funky. There's a diversity of styles from the classic soul jazz of "Morphine" to free musings of "Freakus Pinatus,” but everyone is having a good time without being silly or clever. (Ropeadope)