AMN Reviews: Weston / Saxon Groove Assembly – Acceleration (2016; Orenda Records)

Drummer G. Calvin Weston is well-known for his contributions to recordings from Ornette Coleman, James Blood Ulmer, and the Lounge Lizards.  Here, he teams up with Jonathan Saxon (who plays just about every percussion instrument that is not a drum), as well as veterans Wayne Peet (piano and Hammond organ) and Steuart Liebig (bass and electronics) for a wild ride through eight compelling tracks.

While this album doesn’t quite go in an avant or free direction, it is a unique recording of funky rhythms and driving melodies. Reminiscent at times of Bill Laswell‘s works – for the use of ambiance and space – the focus is certainly on the stylings of Weston and Saxon.  For instance, the fifth track, Road Trip to Downey, is a percussion duo which allows both of these gentlemen to stretch out over a series of rhythmic patterns.  Both slick and catchy, the piece avoids the stereotypical trappings that would have Weston and Saxon show off. Instead, they perform a percussion composition that is hard to pigeonhole into any particular category.

But the contributions of Peet and Liebig should not be downplayed. On the second track, Stutter Step, Liebig lays down an active and complex bass line, while on the next track, Third Floor, he solos like a madman. Peet takes the lead on the title track with a keyboard solo that harkens back to both the 70’s as well as the 80’s New York styles, but without going so far as to sound retro.

The overall result is an album that embraces familiar approaches, but doesn’t quite sound like anything else I’ve heard. Not exactly jazz, not exact rock, not exactly anything, Acceleration is a superb offering for anyone who is looking for thoughtful, varied music, that is a whole lot of fun.