When Chris Lightcap - a celebrated composer and bassist who has lent his huge sound, propulsive groove and creative vision to a wide-ranging array of artists including Marc Ribot, Regina Carter, Tomasz Stanko, Joe Morris and Matt Wilson - first assembled his own group over ten years ago, he had no idea it would develop into a viable entity. "I just put us all together to amuse myself and see what would happen," he recollects. Four acclaimed CDs and countless sold-out shows later, Bigmouth has evolved into one of today's most accomplished creative music ensembles.
Epicenter, the band's much anticipated follow-up to 2010's Deluxe, a critically lauded recording that was on twenty of the year's "best of" lists (including the New York Times, NPR, and JazzTimes), will be released March 4, 2015 on Clean Feed Records.
Bigmouth features two profoundly original tenor saxophonists, Tony Malaby and Chris Cheek, the multifaceted genius of keyboardist Craig Taborn, and the creative powerhouse drumming of Gerald Cleaver. The band is, in effect, a "supergroup" within the contemporary world of creative music. Despite each member's outsize musical personality, together they create a cohesive whole, resulting in grand collective statements of driving, ethereal beauty.
Lightcap was recently awarded a prestigious Chamber Music America New Jazz Works grant, which commissioned the original compositions featured on Epicenter. He wrote pieces inspired by various touchstones and cultural landmarks of his adopted home, New York City. Drawing on his love of West African music, classic pop hooks and great composers across the entire spectrum of jazz, Lightcap creates memorable melodies and harmonic landscapes for the group to delve into. Beginning with the driving declaratory statements of "Nine South," Lightcap sets a musical landscape that reflects the city's most sublime, strange, and sometimes frightening elements. From the hard-swinging freedom of the title track to the ambient interwoven layers of "White Horse" to the off-kilter groove and slow build of "Stillwell," Lightcap's music displays the breadth of his unique compositional vision.
Although the members of Bigmouth are very busy working with dozens of other artists, each manages to carve out time to perform with the band on a regular basis. Lightcap adds, "I'm so happy that everyone has remained enthusiastic about the group. Every time we get together, they show up ready to engage, support each other, throw down, and deliver the goods. We never know how it's going to turn out but it's always a great journey."
Capping off the CD is a raucous take on Lou Reed's "All Tomorrow's Parties," originally heard on the groundbreaking, New York rock classic, Velvet Underground & Nico of 1967. Bigmouth's rendition of this song was one of the most talked about highlights of the 2014 New York Winter Jazz Fest. As Evan Haga wrote in his JazzTimes review, the song "hit the spot for this festival. It was jazz, it was bohemian pop and it was New York City to the bone."