The Big Wu — Tracking Buffalo Through the Bathtub
(Phoenix Rising PR-2004, 1993, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2000-05-01
The Big Wu is a Midwest quintet who focuses on the amusing swing jazz groove vibes of Zappa or the Grateful Dead. This is the kind of group who can channel a happy vibe and break off into a heavy jamming section quite easily. Guitarist Chris Castino emotes a clean Jerry Garcia tone on several pieces, with Jason Fladager spurring an edge with his overdriven blues leads. Together they evoke the best assets of a funky double edged, but smooth guitar attack. “Kangaroo” could almost be a piece from an 80s Dead album with Bob Weir crooning his best down-home style. The song also features a whistled midsection along with a tasty vibes solo. “Bloodhound” taps into bluegrass territory with an amusing story offset by parallel acoustic guitar lines. Plus the band can slow things down a bit as on “Puerto Rico” or on the all-too familiar “Precious Hands.” The group is also making a serious dent in tape trader territory as indicated by extensive boot recordings by avid collectors. It’s not too hard to imagine the group stepping out on many of these pieces since winning an internet jam-band poll on www.Jambands.com earlier this year. Not bad for a seven year old local set of musical friends from Minneapolis making good on an accessible genre left void by the Dead across the nation. I’d love to hear a live tape before completely pegging the band, but if these studio sessions are any indication, this barely scratches the surface on their full capabilities.
Related artist(s): The Big Wu
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