Heh! Great play-on-words title: Clusterfunk, as well as an odd but very workable configuration (3 saxes, 1 bass, 1 set of drums…and 5 singing throats) resulting in what is most definitely a highly funky night out on the movin' groovin' town from yet another ensemble of kuh-razy Cuh-nadians. There sure are some talented folks up there! The Shuffle Demons come replete with a history and even a Guiness World Record, having coordinated 930 saxophones playing the Hockey Night in Canada theme all at once in Toronto's Dundas Square. Hee-haw! Sounds like a segment of South Park, but it's true. That had to have been unreal, but don't figure that such a cacaphonously leviathan outpouring is typical of these hipsters' gig. It ain't. What they purvey is zesty, jumpin', humorous, swingin', blow session jazz-funk that interpolates a good deal more of the 70s fusion vibe than ya might expect.
Hell, these bad actors go so far as to tout righteous hand-painted suits making 'em seem like long-lost members of the Bonzo Dog Band, but when the cats get cookin', you're going to hear Mingus/Kirk style irreverence and killer chops with elements of loopy Tower of Power, Passport, Kraan, Either-Orchestra, even shards of Strata Institute and such, nor would Gil Evans have passed on the blokes, knowing clever skillful chopsters when he heard 'em. The vocals tend to bluesy turns (Mose Allison, etc.), War (yep, Lowridery in places), Louis Prima echoes, and strong working class undertones, but the guys seem to have absorbed an encyclopedia of influences, as we see in the Weather Report-y Earth Song.
Forget using Clusterfunk as the background music for the next meeting of your local book club or even the annual board conference of the Mister Rogers Niceness Appreciation Society 'cause peeps is gonna be dancin', carousin', drinkin', and be-boppin' all over the place as soon as the first cut, Sell Me This, jumps out, amigo. No doubt about it. Not only is the band popular in The Great White North and the upper U.S. festival circuit but has earned awards and acclaim far and wide. Mssrs. Underhill, White, Jefferson, Koller, & Wynston are doing something quite unique in covering myriad musical bases. Whether you just want a lot of way-shakin' jump numbers or outside stretches of dexterity and imagination—as in Way after Midnight and Fukushima—well, ya gets it all, Hiram, and lots more besides. Heck, hook 'em up in concert with an ensemble like Soullive (here), and you'll have a night to remember.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles