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Tiny Resistors

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Album Review

The inventive bassist/composer Todd Sickafoose has been plying his trade as a sideman while occasionally venturing forth as a bandleader in the progressive jazz world. With Tiny Resistors, he's hitting for a high average in presenting original music with a dramatic flair while playing not just the bass. Overdubbing keyboards, accordion, mallet instruments, and the electric bass guitar, he orchestrates charts with many layers for a large ensemble that features electric guitars, brass, and some woodwinds. Special guests Andrew Bird and Ani DiFranco play cameo roles, while the dynamic drummer Allison Miller focuses on tricky rhythms — rock and funk — to drive these pieces along bumpy hillsides. A walking-to-jogging pace, serious to whimsical, identifies "Future Flora" (great title!) as the amplified guitars of Adam Levy and Mike Gamble with Sickafoose on the Wurlitzer organ shush along with Miller and the horns of trumpeter Shane Endsley and trombonist Alan Ferber in a 10/8 rhythm. A rustic old New Orleans blues rhythm centers the muted brass during "Paper Trombones," a bit dour and holding a mystery train-like aura, with the vibes and bass playing of the leader conducting the trip. A wonderfully spacious intro with minimalist bells, vibes, and celeste overdubs turns probing, moving forward into dense terrain on the title selection, with Miller's busy drumming as a fulcrum. "Bye Bye Bees" and "Pianos of the Ninth Ward" include both Bird (violin) and DiFranco (wordless vocals); the former nearly 11-minute track has a polyrhythmic base with handclapping, whistling, and song sounds in tandem with the horns, while the latter is a somber post-Katrina waltz with Sickafoose on piano, the guitars, and an electric ukulele from DiFranco. Bird also plays some country & eastern-styled violin for the heartland Americana stylized "Cloud of Dust." Also along this line of Far East/Far West dialect comparable to Bill Frisell is the rural feeling of "Whistle" with Sickafoose again on piano, or the very Midwestern "Everyone Is Going." Closest to rock in 7/8 time is "Invisible Ink, Revealed," on the craggy, heavy, and darker edge of an inevitable unquiet storm. This is quite an ambitious project from Sickafoose. Considering his need to play many instruments while guiding the talented group through a variety of changes and phases, you would be hard-pressed to fully realize the effort it took to make this music perfect. It's very close to complete, universally appealing, and unique unto itself. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Weird, complex, delightful

One of my favorite albums. Not even sure what genre this is (experimental jazz?), but I love it. Complex enough to listen to endlessly, but smooth enough for me to code & think to. I saw Tiny Resistors open for Hadestown in SF, which was a perplexing musical matchup (Todd Sickafoose produced the album), but as the wonder grew and these odd musical patterns became warmer & more familiar I had to buy the album.


Born: 1974 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Bassist, bandleader, and composer Todd Sickafoose probably performs before his largest live audiences when backing alternative folk singer/songwriter Ani DiFranco, and he can be heard on such DiFranco CDs as 2005's Knuckle Down and 2006's Reprieve. Much of his musical career has been devoted to the avant-garde and creative jazz world, however, and he has garnered considerable acclaim as a jazz sideman as well as leader of his own Todd Sickafoose Group. Like violinist Jenny Scheinman, Sickafoose is...
Full Bio
Tiny Resistors, Todd Sickafoose
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Customer Ratings