Hot Club of Detroit (HCOD) proves itself a versatile modern jazz group, with a unique acoustic-electric sound that surges past expectations and genre boundaries. Junction is the group’s follow up release to It’s About That Time, but this time they have expanded their sonic and compositional horizons by adding French vocalist Cyrille Aimée on three tracks. Guitarists Evan Perri and Paul Brady, accordionist Julien Labro, bassist Shawn Conley, saxophonists Jon Irabagon, and Andrew Bishop, make up the core ensemble.
The band’s power and timbral variation is immediately asserted by Irabagon on the opening track, “Goodbye Mr. Anderson.” The writing of Labro and lead guitarist Evan Perri is also central to the album’s sound. From their rich creative exchange comes the flowing soprano sax/accordina melody of “Song For Gabriel”; the Pat Metheny-esque 6/8 time of “Junction”; and the French-style waltz “Midnight in Detroit.” John Zorn is the inspiration behind “Chutzpah,” with a blasting free-form intro that gives way to precise ensemble passages and a riot of changing tempos and feels. “Django Mort,” was inspired by a Jean Cocteau poem.
Aimée sings the French text as the band plays in a laid-back shuffle feel with a romantic flair. Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman,” also arranged by Labro, features Irabagon on alto saxophone and Aimée singing a lyric written by Margo Guryan. The darker and calmer “Goodbye Mr. Shearing” honors the late piano master George Shearing. Perri and Labro also co-arranged “Rift,” by Phish’s Trey Anastasio, to close the album. Overall, Junction is a great mix of pop-oriented material and avant-garde and gypsy jazz.