Steven Bernstein’s Sex Mob

Watch out. The music of the future is upon us. Music from the Downtown scene has been delivered from the bowels of Manhattan’s Knitting Factory Tap Bar to a major label release on Columbia. Credit slide trumpet pioneer Steven Bernstein for the new pulp-fiction collage of pop music covers and avant-garde solo technique in the form of wild solos over heavy sex groove. In this way, Bernstein’s new album Din of Inequity looks back and moves ahead at the same time, giving both popular and jazz listeners what they want — a way in. Bernstein, one of the hardest-working players of Manhattan, is the long-standing musical conductor for John Lurie’s Lounge Lizards, the arranger for Hal Wilner’s Kansas City soundtrack, and has been a driving force in creative music, playing with everyone from Carla Bley to Bootsy Collins to Digable Planets to Medeski Martin and Wood to Don Byron, and leading two groups of his own, Spanish Fly and Sex Mob. The Sex Mob project was an attempt to (1) bring the sexy thing back to instrumental music and (2) create a working tradition for the slide trumpet (whose debut recording is this album.) Din of Inequity introduces the slide trumpet (same as a trumpet, but no valves) on “Holiday of Briggan” with a John Barryish bass line and a wild, roaring solo by Bernstein. The Mob’s powerful cast of players are then passed the baton — saxophonist Briggan Krauss (originally from Seattle, now the very sought-after acidic altoist of NYC) obliterates solos with an eerie blend of technique and expression. Bassist Tony Scherr (once child prodigy, now arguably one of the top bassists in NYC) and drummer Kenny Wollesen (of John Zorn, Tom Waits, and his New Klezmer Trio) lay down the sexiest of grooves throughout the record. The Mob continues to explore Bernstein’s erotic arrangements of “Goldfinger,” the Cardigans’ “Been It,” and Prince’s “Sign of The Times,” and finally even transform the trivial Macarena to a Bolero-like orgasmic opera. Special guests John Medeski (MMW), Adam Levy, and London McDaniels contribute layers of sound via Hammond B3, and guitars, respectively. With Sex Mob’s Din of Inequity, Steven Bernstein has constructed a way in to jazz from popular music (and back) via a recognizable passageway from one to the other — arranging with the spice and humor of his own experience, executing with the dynamics, intensity, virtuosity, and emotion that great jazz exhibits. Din of Inequity is a landmark in new music.

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