The Thirteenth Assembly (un)sentimental

The Thirteenth Assembly (un)sentimental
This short debut recording from the quartet of cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, violist Jessica Pavone, guitarist Mary Halvorson and drummer Tomas Fujiwara is quite patchy yet manages to demonstrate its truly remarkable capabilities. The bone-dry and blatantly un-funky funk of "Army Of Strangers" lacks the grit, quirkiness or tenderness to steer it away from coming off like a bunch of highly accomplished jazz students. Even when abstract solos derail the tepid groove it still doesn't quite satisfy. "Bird Dog" starts with some pleasant looseness but ultimately locks into another dowdy drum beat, with Halvorson providing a perplexingly meek distorted guitar riff. Starting from the Fujiwara-penned "Chantal" though, the record turns toward more introspective and idiosyncratic territory, featuring some inventive ensemble textures and colourful instrumental approaches. During Halvorson's solo in "Chantal," she goes ballistic with some truly weird whammy pedal swoops. Pungent cornet squawks season "Never Before" with some unexpected flavours. The smooth final track takes the lean beat and arpeggiating guitar of a lost Motown ballad and affixes them to some breathy melodies from the cornet and viola. While uneven, this album holds plenty of promise for the future. (Important)