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Zu & Eugene Chadbourne - The Zu Side Of Chadbourne (2000)



Eugene Chadbourne — guitar
Roy Paci — trumpet
Massimo Pupillo — bass
Jacopo Battaglia — drums
Thomas Mai — saxes (virtually)

For this endeavor the mad Doctor Chadbourne performs with a deliciously irreverent pianoless Italian quartet. More structured than some of the other recordings by Chadbourne, this one enjoys the impressive trumpet sounds of Ray Pacci, who seems to anticipate the guitarist's every move and adds a sort of Lester Bowie sound to the proceedings. Pacci effectively uses mutes and grows, plus short emphatic blasts and guttural blats, to pave his way. At times sounding a touch like late Miles, at others like Bowie, while always forging his own path, the trumpeter leads the procession with pomp and glory. With Jacopo Battaglia's hard core drumming and Massino Popillo's strong bass, the results are usually exciting and even thrilling at times. Overcoming some of the rambling that has characterized some of Chadbourne's earlier projects, this one is highly focused post-modern jazz mixed with a touch of avant-fusion. Chadbourne's electric guitar churns away and he leads the ensemble through dangerous terrain with barely a glitch. --- Steve Loewy, AllMusic

You know you’re in for a major surprise when the CD artwork displays guitarist/composer and sometimes humorist, Dr. Eugene Chadbourne dressed up in garb that might insinuate he was some hierarchical luminary of the Catholic Church. - Along with snippets and graphics that contain religious overtones, the Italian band who go by the moniker of “Zu”, featuring guitarist Eugene Chadbourne have assembled a bold, adventurous and somewhat intimidating affair, titled The Zu Side Of The Chadbourne.

“Zu” is: Roy Paci; trumpet, Massimo Pupillo; bass, Jacopa Battaglia; drums and saxophonist Luca Mai yet Mai does not appear on this release as the liners mention something to the effect that he had cut his finger; hence, his name is explicitly crossed out of the lineup. Basically, Chadbourne is at the top of his game here and along with these fine musicians go straight for the jugular on pieces such as the humorously titled, “Somewhere Over The Chadbourne” which is not a tribute to Judy Garland by any stretch of one’s psyche! Here, fans of the “New York City Downtown Scene” should enjoy the often loud, crash and burn motifs atop the funk/reggae yet pounding and at times surging rhythmic structures. Trumpeter Roy Paci’s blaring phrasing along with Chadbourne’s sizzling leads and crunching chord progressions wreak havoc and destruction! Throughout, the musicians meld odd-metered time signatures, with contrasting dialogue and traces of good old prog-rock as mayhem and intensity take on new connotations.

Chadbourne and co. perform with such verve; tenacity and power one might correlate the experience to a roller coaster ride or perhaps witnessing a rocket launch. The potent and assertive rhythms supplied by Pupillo and Battaglia combine elements of hard-core fusion and free-jazz with solid backbeats and fluid motion as the soloist’s scrupulously convey some sort of cosmic meltdown. “Inna Gadda Na Chadbourne” (sorry, not a tribute to Iron Butterfly) features King Crimson style percussive grooves along with slightly off-center shuffle beats and a few swing motifs yet Chadbourne and Paci execute with the rapidity of a high powered automatic weapon. With “‘O Chadbourne Mio” (are we catching on yet?) the musicians develop unorthodox themes that might suggest some sort of mutant or bastardized form of surf music along with a bit of free-form jazz thrown in for good measure. These compositions often comprise twisted or bizarre unison lines that place the listener in an otherworldly environment or something

Dr. Chadbourne and the members of “Zu” evidently share intrinsic attributes or perhaps.... peculiarities? The music is often mind-bending, extremely aggressive, impacting, unclassifiable and at times gut wrenching for the sheer intensity and combustibility as they shift themes on the fly without providing any advanced warning. Rapid forward motion loaded with unimaginable soundscapes is part of what “Zu” are all about, yet besides the seriousness behind the musicianship and intuitive group interaction this recording is brimming with light hearted overtones as the musicians are obviously having a blast! The Zu Side Of the Chadbourne will most certainly stir or delve into the cavernous depths of one’s imagination while providing themoptimum in cutting edge musical entertainment along the way! Highly recommended --- Glenn Astartia

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