Zebradonk ZD002

Part of a hopefully growing trend in improv avant jazz music, one that couples accomplished playing skill with improv comedy. Comprised of saxophone, ukulele, drums, bass, keyboard and passionate vocals with lyrics that remind me of Torontonian playwright Daniel McIvor’s plays, both hilarious and sad in the same breath. Zebradonk is loosely structured, improvised music with shimmering moments of frenetic crescendos and all the stammering and faltering that goes with it. This album traverses ragtime, be-bop, spoken word and warped ballads, making for a well-rendered eclectic circus. I have long been sceptical of contemporary jazz, an art form that seems to have gone stale and become devoid of progress — these musicians ought to take a page from Zebradonk and learn from their fearlessness, disregard for mistakes and pretension shattering humour. Along with Halifax-based Parabola, these guys are making jazz unpredictable and, gasp, fun. (Independent)