Todd Sickafoose: Invisible Ink Revealed


Invisible Ink Revealed


Todd Sickafoose (bass, keyboards)


Tiny Resistors (Cryptogramophone 138)

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Todd Sickafoose (bass, keyboards),

Shana Endsley (trumpet), Alan Ferber (trombone), Ben Wendel (tenor sax, bassoon), Andrew Bird (violin, looping, whistling), Adam Levy (guitar), Mike Gamble (guitar, effects), Allison Miller (drums, percussion), Simon Lott (drums, percussion)


Composed by Todd Sickafoose


Recorded: Brooklyn, NY, May 23 & 24 2007


Rating: 88/100 (learn more)

Bassist Todd Sickafoose’s music is highly original and unconventional, and some will surely hesitate to call it jazz. He belongs to a generation of musicians who are familiar with the jazz language and have mastered it, but have also listened to rock and to folk music during their teenage years (and still do), who occasionally enjoy playing with a pop singer (Ani Di Franco, in Sickafoose’s case) and who, beside their talents as instrumentalists, have a strong taste for composing and arranging. Brian Blade would be the most famous example of this type of contemporary musicians, and the atmosphere of the present composition by Sickafoose is not very far from that of some of Blade’s “Fellowship” band tunes. There’s no real solo nor melody in this song, which starts with the bass playing a bouncing romp over hand-claps, while the horns and reeds blow parallel lines with a strong vibrato. When the electric guitar enters with a short melody, followed by the drums playing a rock beat, the sound becomes heavier, but a trickle of notes from the piano soon brings a whiff of lightness, as does the acoustic guitar that comes next. While the strings dominate the sound spectrum, we’re in a soft folk-rock atmosphere until the horns reenter and give the whole thing a mild latin tinge, mixed with a twist of the Miles Davis early seventies experiments, courtesy of some moderate electronic effects. In all, one admires the art of sound blending that Sickafoose displays on a tune that definitely has its own sonic density and seamless organic construction, without ever sounding devised in an intellectual, formal way.

Reviewer: Thierry Quénum

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