Tag Archives: Aaron Bennett

Free Jazz review by Stef Gissels

Lisa Mezzacappa’s Bait & Switch – What Is Known (CF 192)
This is jazz with a rock attitude but with jazz rhythms and harmonics. The compositions and sound are angular, raw, unpolished, direct, full of drive and intensity. The compositions are full of rhythmic and harmonic changes, with subtle and great improvisations. Bassist Lisa Mezzacappa explains that she’s been playing long enough as a sideman, and that it was time for her to bring her own thing. And she does.

As said, the musical vision she creates is entirely her own, with lots of rhythmic delights and raw energy, with long unison phrases between guitar and sax, with fun elements and lots of room for improvisations.

Second, she selects a band of musicians who prove to be a perfect fit. John Finkbeiner’s guitar sound and Aaron Bennett’s tenor are each other’s equivalent. Finkbeiner’s guitar is slightly distorted, with no reverb and no sustain, resulting in the kind of in-your-face dry sound, which resides between assertive and aggressive. Bennett’s tenor is harsh and rough. Yet both can use nuance and emotional sensitivity when needed.

The rhythm section is Mezzacappa on bass, of course, and Vijay Anderson on drums. They add the solid rhythmic backbone and often provide the most subtle aspects of the music.To Mezzacappa’s credit, apart from Steve McCall’s “I’ll Be Right Here Waiting”, which is a short solo bass piece, her main project is to develop the music rather than to demonstrate her skills on her instrument.

The music is influenced by the free jazz and AACM jazz, but also Captain Beefheart’s “Lick My Decals Off, Baby” figures on the album. Although all that does not mean very much. This is Mezzacappa’s own music, with a sound and approach that are quite specific.

This is really great stuff, authentic and highly enjoyable from beginning to end.

Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

Bassist Lisa Mezzacappa is a liberal participant in lots of different situations gravitating around new jazz, her recognized “honorary musical godfathers” (Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Sun Ra, Coleman, Ayler, Dolphy, Kirk) constituting the primary source of inspiration for this debut as a boss, particularly in regard to the energy and the focus that those masters have transmitted to Lisa over the years. She was already involved in the “metal jazz” band Go-Go Fightmaster, whose members are a part of this recording: tenor saxophonist Aaron Bennett juxtaposes paradox and hostility in a confrontational style where romanticism is the last memory before dying, guitarist John Finkbeiner is a fissure-filling achiever of impractically skewed lines of exploratory modernity, and drummer Vijay Anderson is proficiently concerned with the guardianship of the pulse, yet he shows the impatience of a percussionist for what’s square, inserting rhythmic traps and shifting accents whenever the occasion calls.

The fact that Mezzacappa produces a cover of Captain Beefheart’s “Lick My Decals Off, Baby” gives the idea of a broadminded approach – you won’t find Van Vliet covered by many people these days. Instead, on “The Cause & Effect Of Emotion & Distance” the whole quartet seems to rise from the ashes of a previous thematic disintegration to turn into a cloud of aromatic scents. In general, the architectures conceived by the leader are characterized by sharp steadiness rooted in contrapuntal verisimilitude. She’s a credible instrumentalist, precise and solid but also able to extract a degree of passion from the most exsiccated, skeletally linear conception. The band’s ability in reciprocally trusting their instant choices and avoiding excesses of discordance is a major plus – everything sounds intelligible (including the tense blowout heard in the title track) and the potentialities of this wise frugality are evident in the acute lucidity defining the entire record.