I first heard Skerik on a Bonnaroo DVD playing King Crimson’s Thela Hun Gingeet with Les Claypool, and I instantly knew I would like this guy’s stuff. When I found Husky in a discount bin at a record store, I jumped at the opportunity to find out and it turns out I was right: I love Skerik’s stuff! In many ways though, Skerik’s Syncopated Taint Septet might not be representative of the variety of his musical projects, but it stands on its own as an amazing piece of work.
As the name suggests the band is a septet with drums, hammond organ and/or wurlitzer organ forming the rhythm section and taking the occasional solo and a luxurious horn section of tenor sax, trumpet, alto sax or flute and bari sax or clarinet. There’s a clear New Orleans brass feel to the whole, although it goes beyond that with a heavy dose of urban funk and a smidgeon of wild harmonic abandon.
There are a couple of things that make Skerik’s Syncopated Taint Septet stand out in my opinion. First of all, while there’s always some structure, melodic, harmonic and rhythmic, the band doesn’t shy away from breaking it or at least straying off occasionally. This contributes some of these glorious moments in music when you’ve been freefalling for some time and suddenly realise you’ve touched the structural ground again. I love these moments. The other element which is really great with the septet is the dynamic range of their playing. They can go real quiet and melancholy and suddenly burst into a bright brass frenzy. Sometimes, as on my favourite track Go To Hell, Mr. Bush, they build up the tension slow and gradual, and it’s all the more orgasmic when you reach the climax.
There’s a wild abandon on Husky that I don’t hear on many other records. I think that’s ultimately what makes this a keeper, and if you like your jazz a little crazy then I suspect you’re bound to love this one!