CD review by Roger Zee (06/08/16)
I really have to thank Dave Kain for expanding my musical horizons. Like a great acid trip, "Raising Kain" blossoms in my mind as a euphony of Jazz without the Blues. Holy sweet harmony! It takes a real visionary like Kain to think outside the box. As in the recent movie, "Lucy," I feel my brain surging and using far more than the usual ten percent! Initially, the record reminded me of "Bright Size Life" by Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorious, and Bob Moses. But aside from quoting the melody of that tune in Kain's solo in "On My Home" (2:30), quantum differences emerge. Metheny bends notes and proffers many guitar effects. Kain doesn't. Jaco Pastorious plays a fretless, electric bass while Thomas Kneeland performs on an acoustic upright. Bob Moses and Joe Abba do however utilize similar styles and fill corresponding roles.
Rhythm and melody drive all popular music. Can I walk away from this CD and hum a tune? Yes! The simple refrains hook into my brain. But the genius lies in the subtle chord shadings. So much sophisticated dissonance with no irritation! Take for example, "Paco." It starts off with a suave chord progression played over a laid-back groove, but it doesn't grab you until the bass enters with the melody line. "Chloe" begins with a slow, delightful bass motif, followed by a beautiful guitar chord re-statement of the theme. In "Lie and Deny," the guitar opens with a lovely, lilting theme and continues with an alluring guitar solo, followed by a subtly stated bass improvisation. Ditto for "On My Way Home." "Logic" leaps out with a powerful guitar riff. Then moves into sophisticated chording until it drops into a fierce, funk groove."
The guitar, bass, and drums display a great, natural chemistry. The real beauty of a trio lies in how it allows the musicians to play apart as well as together. On the opening track "Eleven," Kain spits out a single-line improv with no backing and then chordally states the theme. In "Opportunity," Thomas Kneeland slams out a killer, opening bass riff before the ensemble jumps in full swing. Some of the tunes jet out with the guitar soloing over full band even ahead of a melody statement. Frankly it baffles me how a group can do this without someone comping chords. But then again, Sonny Rollins pioneered the technique. In "On the Scene," the whole band bangs it up front just like that. As in other songs, bass and drums break down dub style and then trade licks.
OK. I haven't seen God. But I do feel truly enlightened! Dave Kain has expanded my brain (without chemicals) and allowed it to grok a truly different concept of music. Thank you!
©2016 Roger Zee