Boombasnap's 'The Dawn' Delivers
By: James Thomas, November 3, 2011
Rebecca Forster - Boombasnap closes out a beautiful afternoon at Harbor Fest in Falmouth, August 2011.
Full disclosure: I’ve had the pleasure of making music with some of the Boombasnap guys over the years. Saxophonist Aaron Dupont and I have worked a few commercial gigs. Guitarist Dennis Christiano and bassist Brian Sances are contemporaries of mine.
Sances made the transition from guitar to bass to join this group, and he’s handled it with aplomb. His grooves are solid, and I look forward to his growth as a bassist as he unravels the mysteries of toying with time.
Christiano’s contributions are mature in their subtleties. His fine solo work reflects a deep affection for rock heritage, but he’s attained the self-possession to let other instruments drive the groove, too.
It’s keyboardist Cory Schechtman who really shines on the disc. He takes us on a whirlwind tour of vintage keyboard sounds with respect and understanding for the varying styles that characterize each one. Schechtman demonstrates remarkable versatility, performing a healthy portion of the album on the Fender Rhodes, letting his inner Chick Corea come through. When he settles into the concert piano, Gregg Allman is surely with us, and his phazer clav spanks and sparks.
On Village—a fantastic track—Schectman gives us a wonderfully mature taste of Russell Ferrante’s synth style. We even catch a few brief glimpses of that Tilt-a-Whirl down on the Asbury boardwalk from the organ.
As for drummer John Redden, he deserves kudos for a light touch. It’s refreshing to hear a drummer in our generation who hasn’t sworn an oath to king and country to pound his kit into submission. As the old-timers say, “it’s is a game of skill, not strength.” Redden takes care to mix up cymbal choices through an extensive slate of grooves. An area for growth lies in his footwork, particularly the left foot. Music in this genre is heavily driven from the hi-hats, and to my ear the album often lacks that definitive sssAHKah.
Clearly, these five musicians are more than capable of hammering out an album chock-full of three-minute pop gold. They made the other choice. These are big tracks, with big ideas. Some of what they’ve come up with is probably a little too big to manage quite yet; not all the transitions between the diverse song sections are as elegant as they could be.
But there’s time. Boombasnap has recorded an authentic live sound and resisted the temptation to over-produce it, which is quite refreshing. The title track makes for a fantastic opening course and introduces the band both individually and collectively, treating us to solid solo work and vocal harmonies, from an ethereal Pat Metheny-style 7/4 groove to a laid back Dead-ish feel.
The aforementioned Village showcases the band’s lyrical abilities, as does the humorous Boombiography, an old-skool hip hop jam featuring Dupont as emcee.
Open space for quality improvised solos is the album’s defining characteristic, and that’s always been where the rubber meets the road in authentic American music. In my opinion, the generic label “funk band” probably undersells and understates the quality of everything that’s happening here.
The Dawn is a bona fide fusion album, weaving together a rich tapestry of important musical traditions from the last half-century of popular and underground styles.
I’m excited to hear more.