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Live At Wnur 2-6-92

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Album Review

Do you think free jazz has to be completely inaccessible and humorless? Enter the Flying Luttenbachers. This reissue of the cassette originally released on the band's own ugEXPLODE label is the only recording of the original Luttenbacher lineup, which included avant-garde jazz veteran Hal Russell. Playing what drummer/clarinetist Weasel Walter calls "punk jazz" in his liner notes, all the hallmarks of free jazz are here, with squawking saxophones and clarinet, though taken to the "punk" extreme when played over Walter's incessant, hyperspeed drumming. Still, the music is not entirely formless. Listen closely and you'll hear melodies and recurring themes.

Russell sounds like he's having a ball with his two young bandmates, trading off humorous between-song, even mid-song banter with Weasel Walter. Humor is injected into the proceedings at numerous times. "Edge of Night" is, according to Russell, stolen from a soap opera, though the Luttenbachers are able to suitably twist the song into jazz. During "Throwing Bricks," the music temporarily stops for a second in the middle of the song so Weasel Walter can ask his bandmates if it's time for his drum solo. When confirmed by the others, he proceeds to beat the living daylight out of his drums. But this is not to say that the music is not taken seriously. Live at WNUR proves to be both a fun and engaging listening, descriptions that do not often go hand-in-hand with free jazz.


Formed: 1990

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

A product of the fertile music scene centered around Chicago's Wicker Park area, the free jazz ensemble the Flying Luttenbachers was formed in 1990 by multi-instrumentalist Weasel Walter, a veteran of area punk bands whose love of the music of avant-saxophonist Hal Russell inspired him to form a jazz group of his own. Walter soon teamed with bassist Bill Pisarri and others to found the Sound Improvisation Collective, who on a flyer for their March 8, 1991, debut performance described themselves as...
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