CD review by Roger-Z (05/29/06)
Appeared in More Sugar, July 2006, P. 19B
Esther Macomb. Sounds like a nice Jewish girl singing jazz tunes -- not a peppy, three-piece jam band
with zany lyrics that perpetually mixes beats and time! According to their web site,
www.EstherMacomb.com, the group
began life as the rhythm section of the SUNY Institute of Technology Jazz Ensemble. They changed their name
to Esther Macomb as "a nod to Adirondack folklore and their Central New York roots." They now reside
in the White Plains, NY area. David Freedman (guitar, vocals), Vincent Presite (drums, vocals), and Robert Pawlings
(bass, vocals), display their extensive musical schooling throughout the album. The musical amalgam ranges from
The Grateful Dead, Chili Peppers, Phish, Steely Dan, Santana, and Frank Zappa to blues, fusion, latin, reggae, and straight ahead jazz.
Each tune on this debut album, recorded in the summer of 2005 in North Carolina, features a catchy chorus and
a plethora of beats and parts. This band could never find a sub to cover the gig!
Lyrical topics (usually tongue in cheek) range far and wide -- from traveling salesmen and drunken vacations,
to murder and armed robbery. My favorite song on the record deals with something much more serious --
the devastating effect of a philandering, drunken, military man (found shot dead) on his son. "Told my mamma he loved her, but not as much as
he loved his car." "My old man is a mean motherf*cker. An ex-con and a long haul trucker. That's the way it had to be.
Meet the man who fathered me." The music guides the listener on a veritable emotional roller-coaster ride.
This proves to be the pattern with most of the tunes. Carefully crafted parts gently strap the listener
in, then shoot for the moon with multiple rocket bursts (and very few overdubs).
The high quality of songwriting makes it difficult to pick out peak moments. However, I will point the
finger at the latin tinged "Borracho," the ironic tale of a drunkin sojourn in Mexico that features
a fabulous guitar workout reminiscent of both Frank Zappa and Carlos Santana. Mixing country rock and
reggae in "Time To Run" proves delightful. "Take your whiskey and your guns and run."
The funky "Traveling Salesman" sings about his need to "Sell my way back home." I only wish the group mixed the
vocals a little higher so I could catch more of the lyrics. However, the instrumental title cut elimates this issue.
You don't need words when riffs rock this hard.
Esther Macomb lovingly craft their music in the jam band tradition and prove to be worth successors of Phish,
The Dead, and even Steely Dan. I can't wait to see them live.