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Firehouse - Live at Glenn Miller Café

Steven Loewy, All Music Guide

Jazz and rock have an uneasy relationship, and while there have been numerous instances of cross-fertilization, there have been relatively few successful examples of the two blending in what is commonly termed Fusion.
Rarely have efforts to merge these seemingly disparate genres proved worthy artistically, even if there have been cases of commercial success. The efforts of Miles Davis come to mind as among the most musically substantive, but even many admirers of the trumpeter's later work admit to mixed results, although some of his trailblazing recordings, such as "A Tribute to Jack Johnson," are often stunning. With some artists, the failure to successfully fuse genres is due to less than stellar musicianship; a limited repertoire; little interest in Fusion by serious jazz performers; and sometimes a simple inability to effectively perform in an unfamiliar area.

In its debut recording, the Swedish group, Firehouse, avoids the common pitfalls of Fusion by insinuating strong jazz improvisations into compelling and varied compositions by John Lindblom. Noticeable from the outset are the finely layered compositions and the creative solos. Lindblom avoids cliché by experimenting with textures, changing tempos, and altering volumes.
For example, "Slow Glow," both lovely and contemplative, is sandwiched between energy-driven compositions, while the intricate rhythms throughout twist the melodies into colorful, contorted prisms.
Even "Bright Lights, Clean Fights," which drags a little, maintains its integrity and level of detail. Although all of the musicians impress, two standouts are Lindblom, whose guitar knocks out paroxysmal electrical electrical charges without forgoing nuance, and Magnus Broo, with a primitive-sounding trumpet that exalts in its rawness.
The arrangements blend elements of Free Jazz and Hard Bop with hardcore Rock to create a highly listenable, sophisticated product that does not surrender to commercial considerations.
Influences are as diverse as The Flying Luttenbachers and Ornette Coleman's Prime Time, but the compositions here are original and compelling, enough so that the results do not sound derivative.