The New Ammo version of Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe consists of a four-horn front line: his sax and flute, trumpeter Chris Littlefield, trombonist Andy Geib, and baritone saxophonist Daniel De La Cruz. The lineup also includes David Veith on B-3 and Rhodes piano, D.J. Williams on guitar, and drummer John Staten. This set is tight, yet all over the place. Three tunes are thoroughly re-visioned, funked-up arrangements of cues from exploitation films. Opener “Grenadiers” comes from Bill Loose‘s score for Russ Meyer‘s Cherry, Harry & Raquel. It’s a cut-time groover with knotty interlocking rhythms, a grinding, dirty-ass guitar vamp, punchy horns, and a wailing sax solo by Denson. “The Duel” by Lenny Stack from the 1970 biker flick C.C. and Company has an ugly bassline, surfadelic guitar, and a B-3 worthy of Steppenwolf‘s “Sookie Sookie.” A massive working of Bo Diddley‘s “Who Do You Love” riff commences “My Baby.” The song combines barroom blues, grimy, rocking slide guitar, and Stax-style horns. It also features a Densonvocal duet with the Gramblers‘ Nicki Bluhm. The White Stripes‘ “Seven Nation Army” is a stomper here, a showcase forDenson‘s strutting flute, with frequent collaborator Robert Walter guesting to deliver a killer Rhodes break. A reading ofthe Beastie Boys‘ “Sure Shot” weds spunky flute, upright bass, soul-jazz guitar, B-3, and a truckload of rim shots. The title cut, “Everybody Knows That,” and “Cheerleader” are old-school KDTU slammers; their snare-kick drum imprint is right up front with the horns. Chris Stillwell‘s excellent “Malgorium” could just as easily have been an Isaac Hayes-charted film cue. Its labyrinthine structure contains a beautiful organ solo by Veith before it extends as a jazz-funk workout. Closer “Odysseus” is an older jam that highlights the band’s formidable jazz chops. Commencing with a slow yet knotty head, it gradually develops into a simmering jazz-funk groove (evoking the charts of Johnny Pate). Old friendMike Dillon contributes two brilliant vibes solos to this track featuring floating Rhodes, choppy horns, bubbling basslines, angular melodic changes in several sections (think Frank Zappa), and a screaming guitar break by Williamsthat ratchets up the intensity before Denson‘s horn roars it out. KDTU‘s unmistakable dance band roots are readily apparent on New Ammo, but it’s easily their most musically adventurous album.


 

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