Howard Fishman Quartet - Do What I Want

Howard Fishman Quartet
Do What I Want

(Monkey Farm)

First Appeared at The Music Box, September 2003, Volume 10, #9

Written by John Metzger


For those who have wondered what it might sound like if Lou Reed changed directions and began fronting a jazz ensemble, the Howard Fishman Quartetís Do What I Want provides a fitting answer. "Youíve been in all my dreams/But they havenít all been bad/Iíve been thinking all about the good times/That you and I never had," sings Fishman with a similar deadpan drawl on the opening track Good Times. Yes, the Howard Fishman Quartet has made quite a dramatic shift in direction on its latest outing, fully embracing rock ínĎ roll as organs swirl and electric guitars whirl over driving drum beats. Though the end result is vaguely reminiscent of both Morphine and Andrew Bird, it also doesnít really sound much like either. Instead it fuses a disparate array of influences together into something refreshingly distinct from everything else currently on the increasingly homogenous market.

Undoubtedly, Do What I Want will come as a bit of a shock to the Howard Fishman Quartetís fans as previous efforts drew heavily from the jazz and swing ruminations of Django Reinhardt, the earthy blues of Charley Patton, and the mountain musings of Ralph Stanley. Yet, the band hasnít totally discarded these strands of early American music either, thereby retaining at least some of its old-time charm. Indeed, the sounds of the past continue to bubble to the surface through the jazzy flights of trumpeter Erik Jekabson, the percussive flourishes of drummer Mark McLean, the acoustic bass patter of Jonathan Flaugher, the textured keyboards of Brian Pearl, the acoustic country-folk guitar of Fishman, and the soothingly sophisticated violin accompaniments of Russell Farhang. Itís just that this time, the songs reverberate with more than a touch of New York grit. Itís a strange concoction, but itís also one that works quite well, at least in the hands of Fishman. Whether launching into the tender strains of In Another Life, the groovy funk of the title track, or the laid-back folk-blues of New Life, he pulls it all together by exploring the dichotomy between joy and sorrow from a startlingly singular musical perspective. starstarstarstar

Do What I Want is available
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


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