Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Lex Samu and the Kraft Quartet - Nervous Boogiedotdotdotdot
artworkThis is quite remarkable. Imagine surf instros inverted to fit a blue jazz construct. It's amazing how some f these familiar surf classics just seem to naturally fit into this entirely different way of imagining them. The Kraft Quartet are Morgan Kraft - fretless guitar, Fender Rhodes, Madison Rast - double bass, and Dave Durst - drums, joined by various fourth members to complete the quartet, and fronted by Lex Samu - trumpet, flugelhorn.
Picks: I Wish You Would, Continental Missile, Tom Cat, Pills, Tragic Wind, Johnson Machine Gun, Roller Coaster, El Conquistador, Nervous Boogie, Boss, Whose Muddy Shoes, Pipeline, Ice Cream Man Reprise

Track by Track Review


I Wish You Would dotdotdot
Blue Jazz (Instrumental)

Billy Boy Arnold's seminal 1955 song "I Wish You Would" is done with extreme reverence, yet has a charming jazz edge delivered via trumpet, and trembled a bit by the addition of guitar. Very saucy.

Continental Missile dotdotdotdot
Surf Jazz (Instrumental)

The Chantays' "Continental Missile" seems a very unlikely vehicle for a trumpet instrumental. The addition of marimba and vibes is, to say the least, a brilliant move. It ties into the electric piano of the original, but also connects with jazz groups like MJQ. Great drums round out the experiment. Amazing!

Tom Cat dotdotdotdot
Surf Jazz (Instrumental)

"Tom Cat" slowly writhes against a repeated muted reverbed crash chord that plays at odds with the sultry slide guitar and horn. The tremble of the tremolo guitar hooks into surf. All I can say is, what a cool slithering monster!

Pills dotdotdot
Blues (Instrumental)

I'm not sure about this one. "Pills" didn't grab me like the rest here. It seemed almost tame and un-engaging, though the harmonica is pure Billy Boy Arnold stylistically.

Tragic Wind dotdotdotdotdot
Surf Jazz (Instrumental)

All right, this is what this band was meant to do! The Chantays' "Tragic Wind" is utterly superb, played against very cool drums, vibrant with energy, and blissfully arranged with guitar shimmer and horn squirts. You just cannot ignore this or dismiss it, regardless of your feelings towards the notion of surf jazz.

Johnson Machine Gun dotdotdot
Blues (Instrumental)

"Johnson Machine Gun" is a straight blues, with wonderful tremolo guitar and soulful slither. It doesn't stray far from home, drinking deep at the blues trough.

Roller Coaster dotdotdotdot
Blues (Instrumental)

This is a great jumpin' blueser with great harmonica! It may be all blues, but it's thoroughly infectious and cool! The muted chords add a surfish feel, and that beat... Man, I like this!

El Conquistador dotdotdotdot
Surf Jazz (Instrumental)

Muted reverb rhythm guitar and horn in the drivers seat when the guitar isn't in charge. This is the closest thing here to an actual surf instro. Great drums, digital reverb guitar, perfect surf bass, and squirting trumpet. Yikes!

Nervous Boogie dotdotdot
Blues (Instrumental)

"Nervous Boogie" is another straight electric blues. Its energy and vibe are hoppin' good, and the trumpet just squonks!

Boss dotdotdotdot
Surf Jazz (Instrumental)

The Rumblers' "Boss" is perhaps a natural for Lex Samu and the Kraft Quartet because it was, after all, a blues based sax lead instro in a guitar dominated genre. Then again, leave it to these guys to play the melody line on marimba with the trumpet squirtin' radical notes. This classic has undergone a very interesting transformation.

Whose Muddy Shoes dotdotdot
Blues (Instrumental)

The blues slowly ooze from every corner of "Whose Muddy Shoes." Arranged in a fairly traditional fashion, except for the trumpet lead, the song is both adventurous and safe.

Pipeline dotdotdot
Surf Jazz (Instrumental)

This is reminiscent of the way Kai Winding and Kenny Burrell did it, and with the melody line incorrect the way Jerry Cole missed it, it has a certain uneasiness about it. yet, the Rhodes break lines are superb.

Ice Cream Man Reprise dotdotdot
Blues (Instrumental)

The first version of "Ice Cream Man" on this disc is vocal, and this is very similar, but with trumpet lead against some great harmonica. Quite nice.