Drumheller Drumheller

Drumheller’s release marks the ninth for the Toronto based Rat Drifting label. It also marks the first jazz release that the label has taken on and poses some interesting questions for its doggedly idiosyncratic identity. What we have here is fundamentally an album of jazz or jazz-based compositions, but with the addition of the amazing Eric Chenaux skronking merrily away on each track. Therein lies the question — jazz, as a process and a genre, has been the most accepting of outside influences from classical forms to roots/indigenous to punk rock to electronic. Drumheller drummer, Nick Fraser, has described the band as "a hard-swinging jazz quintet who happen to include other elements that are of interest to us.” Rarely, however, has the connection been made without a major effort in altering form on the jazz side to accommodate the contrast of the guest. While this release has some enjoyable moments, the overall impression is that of a strong jazz ensemble with a very creative and incredibly abstract guitarist tacked on. The compositions themselves are also, for the most part, strong but unfortunately the whole thing doesn’t quite gel. While on other Rat Drifting recordings, the music seems seamless and strong in its identity and inspired in execution, this release seems to be asking the question "what if ?” Maybe the next Drumheller CD will answer that question. (Rat-Drifting)