Lucky 7s – Pluto Junkyard (CF 141)
One of the more inspiring, albeit lesser known, stories related to Hurricane Katrina is the formation of the Lucky 7s. The storm’s devastation broke up trombonist Jeff Albert’s quartet, as drummer Quin Kirchner relocated to Chicago (along with his frequent musical associate, bassist Matthew Golombisky). Although Jeff stood his water-soaked ground, gigs were still nonexistent in the ravaged city, so he contacted fellow trombonist Jeb Bishop about pulling together some kindred souls from Chicago along with Quin and Matt, resulting in rehearsals and subsequent performances at The Empty Bottle and The Hungry Brain. The final night at the latter venue made up six of the seven songs on Farragut, a rollicking disc that entertained the fortunate few that were able to find it on Lakefront Digital. For those afraid the 2006 disc was just a one-off release, Pluto Junkyard marks a considerable step forward, with more tightly arranged compositions and release on a higher exposure label.
The presence of Jason Adasiewicz’s shimmery vibes and the hot tenor of Keefe Jackson gives the Lucky 7s the air of a Blue Note offering from back in the days when they were pairing fire-breathing saxophonists with Bobby Hutcherson. There’s no diminution of energy from the first release: “Future Dog” transitions from one funk riff to another, and the sonic meltdown of “The Dan Hang” marks the welcome reappearance of Bishop’s skronky guitar (and if this is truly representative of what is played at The Hungry Brain after-hours, please get some sound people there immediately). The most noticeable difference is that this release has no overtly N’Awlins-influenced music, in the manner of the second-line-ish drumming on the closing “Bucktown Special” on Farragut (the one exception, Bishop’s “Afterwards”, was actually written for the previous recording); in fact, the closing “Sunny’s Bounce” is a clear nod to the Chicago sound, written by Albert after hearing a Sun Ra Delmark recording on an iTunes shuffle (hmmmm, on a release titled Pluto…).
But the real muse of this release seems to be Bishop’s wife, Jaki Cellini: her reaction to Jeb’s promise to get her a pet provided the title of Albert’s “Future Dog,” and Bishop’s cool bopping “Jaki’s Walk” was actually their wedding’s recessional music. Here’s to the bright future of the couple as well as the Lucky 7s.