Sam Trapchak's Put Together Funny - Lollipopocalypse (2010)
By S. Victor Aaron
Growing up in the Detroit area, Sam Trapchak's dad played electric bass, and like most musically interested young boys in America, Sam wanted to play guitar. But his father persuaded him to take up bass instead with a piece of irrefutable logic: Everyone always needs a bassist. From there, young Sam was on his way, beginning a way of life that eventually landed him a full scholarship at New Jersey's William Paterson University and the opportunity to study under the jazz piano great Mulgrew Miller. Just a year after moving to NYC in 2009, Trapchak was ready to make a record, and the product of those sessions resulted in his debut CD Lollipopocalypse. It's also the recording debut of Trapchak's crack quartet Put Together Funny.
Put Together Funny is a young nimble group consisting of Trapchak on double-bass, Arthur Vint on drums, Tom Chang on guitar and Greg Ward, winner of SER's 2010 fusion record of the year, on alto sax. Chang himself is a key partner in this venture, serving as co-producer with Trapchak and contributing two originals to Trapchak's five.
Trapchak's style of jazz reflects his and his band's diverse mastery of styles ranging from afro-beat, heavy metal, country and more. His music isn't any of these things, but the influences are put through the jazz filter to spawn a modernized, unconventional type of jazz that's derivative of most everything and a duplication of nothing. And it does it often in a light, unassuming way, that does many things at once in subtle ways. The opening track Different Dance" one of several tracks that is just like that: Ward plays one melody, Chang plays a counter melody and Vint plays an unconventional time signature that sounds very much correct given the harmony's dynamics. Trapchak early on in the song places a solo that is so well integrated with what everyone else is doing, he is actually soloing and comping simultaneously. Chang follows with some willowy, tasty licks, and Ward takes the most spirited lead, but never so much as to disrupt the light, snappy tempo of the tune. It's a composition that's put together funny, alright, put also put together well.
Chang's On The Cusp Of Cancer" uses a rock motif as a backdrop to what is really advanced jazz. Moving through several sections before returning to the theme, the mood remains vibrant throughout. Trapchak improvises again with a close ear on the chord changes as well as Vint's crisp rim work and Ward's alto builds up carefully to a heated ending. Long Live/Less Say" begins with some improvised lines by Ward into the sharply-defined theme, which is broken up by some heedful succession of chords. Chang's guitar lead on this one is full of nice, jazzy shapes. Ward and Chang again combine competing lines into a Tongue And Groove," Chang's other composition, that skillfully straddles the line between modern jazz and avant-garde jazz.
Just when you begin to think you've got Put Together Funny's style figured out, here comes a soulful ballad in the tradition of the classic torch songs, Losing You." Although lyrics could have been added to this song, Ward sings" the part more than well enough to make that unnecessary. Trapchak takes a tasteful, extended solo on Precious Few," then finishes out with the wild, musical roller coaster ride of the title track.
Aside from that last cut, which is a little formless, Trapchak and Chang put together a strong, sophisticated set of tunes, and this band full of unique personalities came together to make a record that often pushes hard against the boundaries of what is called jazz." With Lollipopocalypse, Sam Trapchak should quickly establish himself in the hard-to-get-noticed New York City jazz scene. Anyone who enjoys Mary Halvorson's brand of jazz (and there are evidently plenty) need to check this other emerging musician, Sam Trapchak.
Lollipopocalypse was released last December 16 on Trapchak's own Raw Toast Records. Visit Mr. Trapchak's site here.
Purchase: Sam Trapchak's Put Together FunnyLollipopocalypse