Phil Bowler & Pocket Jungle
2014: Zoho Music LLC
Phil Bowler on bass
Pete Smith on guitar, 9-string guitar
Paul Carlon on tenor saxophone
William “Beaver” Bausch on drums
Scott Latzky on drums, tablas
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 10, 2015
This CD is an eclectic selection of new tunes composed by members of the band, one standard by Harburg/Lane, and two tracks by B. Hutcherson and Harvie S, and one track by S. Coleman. The new tunes have generous solos for each musician in the ensemble, especially busy bass solos for Phil Bowler, lead artist on the album. Bowler brings along William “Beaver” Bausch on drums, Scott Latzky, also on drums, plus tablas, Pete Smith on guitar and 9-string guitar, and Paul Carlon on tenor sax. The new tunes are abstract, with percussive flourishes and a mix of blended, rhythmic themes. One can hear evocations of New Orleans funk, as well as Latin and contemporary jazz, throughout.
#2 – Funky Cha – Composed by Harvie S. The piece opens with Latzky on tablas, Bowler on bass, and Smith on funky guitar, followed in the momentum by Bausch on soft drums and metal. Soon Carlon brings his tenor sax into the mix, with an echoing, danceable, upbeat theme. The sax takes the mood to playfulness, then hands it to the guitar, then the bass, for earthy, languid moments. The track finishes in a fused, melodic mix.
#3 – Time In – Composed by Paul Carlon. A Brazilian Samba breezes in here, with bass, sax, and drums ((both Latzky and Bausch) rapidly swirling. The guitar dashes in next, keeping the same, whirling, Samba tempo, through the track, before sax and guitar lead the ensemble into a whispering mix, again led by the sax. This track has compelling energy.
#4 – Old Devil Moon – Composed by E.Y. Harburg/Burton Lane. The self-composed tracks are each nicely unique, but I could not resist focusing on this standard (and the following jazz piece). Guitar (or guitars, as it seemed Smith was playing both, with so much versatile verve) and sax lead this renowned song, with bass and drums taking a rambunctious turn later on. The highpoint was a passage with staccato guitar and drumsticks, for flourish and panache.
#8 – West 22nd Street Theme – Composed by Bobby Hutcherson. The midnight-bluesy tune by Bobby Hutcherson gave each musician a spotlight, especially Bowler, for an earthy bass riff, in an incandescent conversation with the guitar. The urban motif is carried by a breathy sax and enchanting guitar tune. Percussive cymbals added to the showcased star power of the album’s ensemble.