Mango Prom 2024


Funfair festivities for fusion and funk aficionados feverishly dreaming of riding a timewarp carousel.

Formulating futuristic schemes may have become commonplace for musicians trying to tightrope-walk the thin line between jazz and rock, and Scott Henderson is no stranger to such an idea, although his previous record, "People Mover" from 2019, married it to a prominent human touch, yet the eleven pieces of “Karnevel!” present a completely different concept. Yes, here’s a concept album, with a scene-setting intro and a cinematic finale to take the listener on a trip to the past when big bands roamed the earth and allow the American guitarist to indulge in his affection for his chosen genre’s traditional strands. By no means detached from our present reality, as the titles and styles of a few tracks on offer suggest, this platter feels as warm and comfortable as a stream of pleasant memories.

Intrepid adventurers who love horror movies are treated like dear guests from the very start, the fairground noises of “Step Right Up” sending shivers down one’s spine before the album’s title track’s half-abstract passages burst with muscular funk and find Scott rage ‘n’ rave to an extent where his effects-sprinkled six strings that foray into synthesizer sonics turn the aural tapestry into a playful array of arresting images. But while the airy ‘n’ scary, “Haunted Ballroom” and the fragile “Greene Mansion” are respectively located within the vibrant constraints of a solid groove, as laid down by Henderson’s fellow travelers Romain Labaye on bass and Archibald Ligonnière on drums, and unaccompanied baroque strum, “Covid Vaccination” is a faux-brass-splashed triumph of electric madness, its Latin-tinctured rhythm simply irresistible and impressive in terms of expanding the ensemble’s dynamic front. In a similar way, “Puerto Madero” and “Acacia” get fleshed out from elegiac drift to become a full-on, fiery if diaphanous, jive – as opposed to the relentless bluesy shuffle of “Sea Around Us” or infectiously blistering, constantly shifting skank of “Bilge Rat” yet, especially, to the percussive epic assault of “Sky Coaster” which sees the trio rock hard and their leader shred with a lot of taste.

So once the raga-tinged “Carnies’ Time” begins to wrap things up, a sense of mission being accomplished with a flourish is brought to the surface for the punters to share and take home. Quite a ride!


February 21, 2024

Category(s): Reviews
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