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By : Steve B

8 min read

Bear Proof by bass player Todd Sickafoose is that wonderful mixture of loose improvisation that brings a natural, organic, and conversational feel with beautiful composition that ensures a rewarding journey. The album is meant to be heard in its entirely, front to back, as one composition. In fact, it was recorded live in the studio in one take. Jazz may be the closest genre, but this album is not easily categorized, so don’t come looking for towering individuals trading solos.

The songs are contemplative moods that ease you into a state of mind and occasionally drop you off the edge. Todd Sickafoose describes the album as “a surreal meditation on Boom and Bust,” and this plays out in the wide range of styles and sudden shifts in mood throughout the album. For instance, the song “Flush” has a funk/klezmer/Mr. Bungle vibe, and the next song “Magnetic North” has the feel of the group Tin Hat Trio. Todd describes his approach to the album as “taking little kernels of melody and seeing what I could do with them. Many are extrapolated from the simple melody in ‘The Gold Gate,’ the four phrases of three notes that you hear in the opening piece.”

My favorite aspect of the album is the use of melodic rhythms. The drums are not just keeping time, they provide a memorable and approachable beat that can sometimes be the most recognizable part of the song and often mask unusual time signatures. Also great is the use throughout the album of the steady beat suddenly dropping out and giving the feeling of the remaining instruments floating around each other looking for a home (Boom then Bust). Todd ruin?”

This album takes you on a journey that rewards repeat listens. It is highly original and subtly intermixes everything everywhere all at once.

—Steve B

Originally published in-print in Boston Compass Newspaper #166 February 2024



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