Weird Turn Pro has been nominated along with some great local music for two Spotlight Awards this year: Best Instrumental/Jazz Group and Album of the Year.
"Weird is good."
Mike Effenberger first came to my attention as part the Monk tribute band led by Frank Carlberg. The guy added a fitting — and gratifyingly never overdone — level of quirk by way of some mild electronics. Also, he was otherwise right on the mark with his quietly digging-deeper-and-deeper keyboard work.
Effenberger’s band Weird Turn Pro (band name inspired by Hunter S Thompson) recently produced a disc called The Repeatedly Answered Question that, though it features only a sextet, feels like it belongs in the company of the aforementioned large ensemble recordings.
Including Boston-and-points-north luminaries Matt Langley (reeds) and Chris Klaxton (trumpet), the group works through a range of Effenberger compositions that reveal his gift for blending “in” and “out” jazz concepts with classical approaches to reach a musical place that’s quite engaging.
Following on the intensity of the Ra-inspired and Fujii releases, I found the nimbly meditative tunes “Ozone,” “Grew Dim, and Went Out Forever” to be particularly moving. These minimalist laments speak to an uneasy future, yet another incisive vision of what’s to come from a group of committed musicians.
The Hunter Thompson-named Weird Turn Pro is made up of Chris Klaxton/tp, Matt Langley/reeds, Chris Gagne/tb, Mike Walsh/dr, Rob Gerry/b and Mike Effengerger/p mix a pair of standards with dark toned originals by Effenberger on this album. The horns do a lot of long toned unison work, as on the languid “I Get Along Without You Very Well” the trudging “Snowrise” and moaning rubato of “A Cloud From Above.” Some piano and percussive musings team with Klaxton’s muted trumpet on the pastoral “Wide Open” and Langley’s bass clarinet gets melancholy on “All Around You.” Some electric effects stretch out Chopin’s “Prelude No Four” while Gerry bows along the anthematic “Grew Dim, and Went Out Forever.” Long dark shadows.