Canadian quartet Modasaurus release their second album, 4K, with tracks covering a range of styles and influences, all firmly rooted in contemporary jazz fusion.
The group was formed in 2016 when professor, pianist and composer James McGowan joined Jamie Holmes, Alex Moxon and Jean-Philippe (JP) Lapensee, who at the time made up the HML trio, and they released their first album, Two Intents, in 2017.
The opening track, The Four Kids, begins with a catchy piano phrase that is repeated as Alex Moxon’s overdriven electric guitar enters with a complex, winding melody. The piece continues in an upbeat fashion, and each musician takes short but powerful solos.
On the following track the band changes direction quite dramatically, with a distinct Latin-jazz influence. There’s clean electric guitar, excellent, reserved drumming from Jamie Holmes and extended improvisation from McGowan and bassist Lapensee. The 10-minute long Crazy Ceilidh introduces a strong folk element, via guest Norman Glaude on harmonica, and a series of simple, repetitive melodies. The track slowly evolves and the various melodies are returned to between solos, giving a pleasant unity.
Stylistically, the ensemble remains faithful to modern jazz, but draws on a variety of influences. The third track, Khaleegy, is described in the liner notes as “Middle-Eastern jazz”, and is distinctly, and perhaps predictably, Phrygian, in A minor and leaning heavily on the flat 2. The longest track on the album, Chaconne And Fugue, proceeds, as the title suggests, with a short piano theme that is repeated and varied over 11 minutes. It’s joined by Maxon on electric guitar who provides melody as well as another excellent solo.
Modasaurus is a quartet of extremely skilled musicians who combine styles expertly and turn 4K into a great success.
The Four Kids (4K); Hey Bud!; Winding Way; Crazy Ceilidh; Khaleegy; Chaconne And Fugue; Seen My Jawa? (56.07)
James McGowan (p, kyb), Alex Moxon (elg); JP Lapensee (b); Jamie Holmes (d); Normand Glaude (hca); Wayne Eagles (elg). Canada, 2020.