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about

My final trombone venture before the slide guitar virus completely took hold...released on Cryptogramophone in 2003.
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Extreme jazz, avant funk, liquid Americana & Skronk blues.
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Scot Ray - trombone, compositions
Jeff Gauthier - electric violin
Nels Cline - electric guitar
Steuart Liebig - contrabassguitars
Alex Cline - drums
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This group live: www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AE_IzS4yGM
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credits

released May 1, 2003

Reviews:

Trombonist Scot Ray rounds up the usual suspects of West Coast postmodern jazz for this session classified in the ‘unable to classify’ category. The former sideman in Brian Setzer’s swing orchestra pens a few ideas of hs own on Active Vapor Recovery. He has jettisoned swing for an amalgam of fresh funk, rock, chamber, and free music. Scot assembles a cast of Cryptogramphone and 9 Winds record regulars to pull off this most eclectic of sessions. But then again what would you expect from a trombone/electric violin/bass/guitar/drums record? Cartoon music? Yes, and then some. Scot’s compositions, nine of them, are a sort of 21st century Raymond Scott pack of hungry electric cannibals with all the time and music shifts possible. His "Scarabaeus" starts off marching, only to twist into the Warner Brothers cartoon version of hide-and-seek before mashing a bit of guitar/trombone driven mayhem. The quintet also dabbles in chamber jazz on "Man As Kite," prominently featuring Jeff Gauthier’s fluid tone. You have to dig any band that can go from dizzy to beautiful with such ease. They infuse soul jazz and funk jazz into the 1970s inspired "In Cleveland" and the title track. This eclecticism of style can sound stilted if care is not taken to keep the music consistent. Scot’s choice of the Cline bothers and Stuart Liebig makes the sum of these parts a greater whole. Guitarist Nels Cline has always been able to shift genre and attention with eloquence. Scot allows Cline to shred when necessary; other places he accompanies without distracting. The two tracks that stand out here are almost exact opposites in style. The nearly 14-minute "Trouble With Sugar" is a free abstraction of created sounds, while "Bitteroot" plies beautifully long lines of color over a landscape of serenity. Ray’s trombone carves through all of these tunes with a remarkable fluency in all styles. - Mark Corroto, All About Jazz L.A., 6/1/03
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In your face. That's how the Scot Ray Quintete's Active Vapor Recovery starts out on "Three Quarks." It has to do with attitude and Ray's axe: the trombone, an inherently in-your-face instrument. Ditto for the electric violin (Jeff Gauthier) and the electric guitar in the hands of Nels Cline. Wailing guitar chops and searing violin, combined with the forthright brass attack of the trombone. The disc goes full-throttle for the most part, with some solid grooves matched with accessibility. Some funk, some loud avant jazz; and also some wandering sonic introspection. The third tune, "Shiny Object," cooks with electric heat, Nels Cline's guitar simmering behind the front line trombone and violin interplay. "In Cleveland" almost sounds like 'In Detroit,' a trombone/guitar Motown sound...or on second thought, more like a James Brown groove, slashing chords, driving brass. "Man With Kite" is the highlight, a ten minute mini-symphony opening with a wandering trombone and violin unison line, the rhythm section eventually gelling into a liquid groove. "Bitterroot," the closer, is a relaxed back porch moan that evokes wide open skies at dusk, a waning day holding hope for the future. The odd instrumental mix here works beautifully on the hard driving barn burners and slower, more introspective pieces too. - Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz NY, 6/1/03
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Another shining jewel in Cryptogramophone's crown, this recording features trombonist Scot Ray leading a quartet of label regulars, including the peerless Cline brothers (Nels and Alex) on guitars and percussion respectively, Jeff Gauthier on violin and Stuart Liebig on bass. However, leading (or following) is problematic for this group of musicians, because their collective style is always highly interactive, with various combinations joining together in duet and trio formats throughout. Ray is given plenty of chances to show off his chops, but he hardly dominates. And while traditionalists may regard the presence of electric guitar and violin in the group as unconventional, it's a combination that works brilliantly, thanks in part to the natural sonorities of the instruments, but also to the gifts of Nels Cline and Jeff Gauthier. Both can mimic reeds and brass with uncanny accuracy, giving the quintet a rich, fat sound. Guitarist Cline continues to amaze with his matter-of-fact integration of thrash and avant garde flailing into a jazz context, although he is equally at home in a half-dozen or so other styles. This, together with Gauthier' s expressive violin, give the group access to an array of timbres and textures well beyond the reach of the standard jazz quintet. Leader Ray brings the tunes, all of which are all his own compositions. A number of pieces develop from repetitive, staccato riffs, twisted and pulled in several directions while individual musicians improvise over the top. "Above Breath" opens with a terrific unaccompanied trombone intro. Later, Scot and bassist Liebig are featured in a duet, and the two sound like a pair of elegant elephants doing a stately little dance. Perhaps the most audacious piece is "In Cleveland", which begins with a bouncy disco theme (anyone for the twist, or perhaps the frug?), but then develops into something much less predictable, with great interplay between Cline and Scot. However, the title piece wins the funk sweepstakes, with great bone work, lots of punch from the rhythm section, and some of the nastiest, most distorted guitar imaginable from Cline, who stutters, sputters and howls behind the theme statement like a man possessed. Equally impressive are three long pieces that unfold in a more leisurely fashion. Two are ballads ("Man as Kite" and "Bitteroot"), and here, the quintet plays it straight, although with the characteristic little wrinkles in instrument groupings and writing that consistently distinguishes this group from the run-of-the-mill equivalent. "Trouble with Sugar" begins as a free conversation among quintet members and then moves into a boppish theme, sometimes alternating with a controlled, eight bar collective freakout. Here (and elsewhere), the humour and expansive use of musical materials (everything from Ellington to greasy funk and atonal bursts of noise) brings to mind the compositions of Charles Mingus, and that's no bad thing. - Bill Tilland, BBCi, 7/15/03

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