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Track listing:
1. Adam's Tao
2. NewTune
3. Pedestal
4. Popcorn in F7
5. Collage 3
6. (click intro)
7. Click pt 1
8. 4/1
9. Recapitulation
10. Filament
11. Ode to cat
12. (unruly intro)
13. the Unruly Garden
14. Hinge
15. 6 Man Brew
16. Click pt 2
17. (end banter)

Ben Acrish - trumpet
Tim Williams - alto sax
Brian Patneaude - tenor sax
Keith Yaun - guitar
Jonathan Cohen - bass
Chad Ploss - drums

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click here to learn more about the Erftones

ERFTONES - Dispatch (WEPA Records)

by J Hunter

The word “Dispatch” has several meanings. One is that it is a type of message, as in “a dispatch from the Front.” Another is to dismiss someone or something, like when Mandy Patinkin holds up a sword to the villain’s throat in The Princess Bride and says, “Shall I dispatch him for you?” Dispatch, the latest disc from the Erftones, is not only a welcome “dispatch” from the musical Front, it also “dispatches” the persisting notion that jazz is best left in a historical stasis that begins and ends with Jelly Roll Morton and Duke Ellington.

You don’t get eased into the Erftones’ world. Before you can catch your breath, you’re strapped into a Ferrari on a downhill run with no brakes. This is bassist Jon Cohen’s Ferrari, but he’s got some phenomenal horses under the hood, led by Keith Yaun’s screaming guitar and a Tower Of Power-quality horn section featuring Ben Acrish on trumpet and Tim Williams & Brian Patneaude on reeds. The first three cuts of Dispatch – “Adam’s Tao”, “New Tune” and “Potential” – make it abundantly clear: This is not your grandfather’s jazz. This is jazz that rocks and funks. This is jazz that you can dance to. This is jazz that’s fun!

Remember fun? You know, that thing we used to have before it was decreed that jazz should be worshipped but never touched? Little touches of irreverence – the prolonged amp buzz at the end of tunes, the byplay between the musicians and engineer Seamus McNulty, the non-sequiters tossed around during “Collage” – show this band is here to have fun. “This is music now,” Cohen intones before “The Unruly Garden”. “This is serious!” C’mon, Jon! You don’t sub-reference the theme from The Munsters (as the Erftones do in “Collage”) if all you want to be is serious.

The only question is whether the horns can keep up with the blistering pace set by Yaun, Cohen, and percussionist Chad Ploss. Acrish answers the question easily on “Popcorn in F7” and “Ode To Cat”, while Patneaude and Williams shine throughout the disc, together and separately. In fact, while I loved every inch of Dispatch, I was mildly disappointed when the horns laid out and the trio carried the ball. Those guys are great, but it’s the funked-up horn charts that make the Erftones something beyond established norms. There is a commitment to the unit, a commitment to the sound, a commitment to be something unique.

Dispatch is not just great music; it is also encouraging, in that it continues a trend of slipping jazz through the back door of the current generation of music lovers. While I couldn’t see the Erftones in the staid atmosphere that is Jazz At Lincoln Center, I could definitely see them sliding right onto the bill at Bonnaroo, the jam-band festival held every summer in North Carolina. The jam-band movement has opened its arms (and ears) to Charlie Hunter, John Scofield, and Medeski, Martin & Wood. The thought of the Erftones joining that roster is not far-fetched. Of all the things I hope will happen soon, that is one of them.

J HUNTER is a former announcer/producer for radio stations in the Capital Region and the Bay Area, including KSJS/San Jose (where he was Assistant Music Director/Jazz programming), Q104 WQBK/Albany, and WSSV/Saratoga. He has also written music and theatre reviews for the Glens Falls Chronicle. He currently resides in Clifton Park.