Grand melodies, shifting textures, and thick rhythms radiate from Todd Sickafoose's music. On Tiny Resistors, the bassist/composer matches his 8-piece New York band with a pair of guests, Andrew Bird and Ani DiFranco, to create a jazz record with the muscle and scope of an indie-rock orchestra. Throughout its 68 minutes of music, the record evokes images: the mysterious flora of a future epoch, the revelation of a secret message scribbled in invisible ink, an exodus of buzzing bees, and the silent sadness of an underwater piano, drowned in the waters of Lake Pontchartrain. It is these visions, and others, that inspire the 11 original compositions on Tiny Resistors, Sickafoose's third and most lushly-produced release to date.
This is music from a thinker whom the San Francisco Chronicle calls "A captivating improviser, imaginative composer, and master of collaboration."
Review: The bassist Todd Sickafoose builds grooves from the ground up, but that's no impediment to the flow or buoyancy of his music. "Tiny Resistors," his third and strongest album as a leader, features a number of tunes in which multiple horn parts and guitar lines swirl around a tonal center, and over a calmly asymmetrical pulse. "Cloud of Dust," the title of one, feels appropriate; so too does "Invisible Ink, Revealed." Mr. Sickafoose has serious training in jazz, and there are more than enough intelligent solo flashes on the album to place it on a progressive post-bop axis. But he's also a rock musician, best known to many fans as a longtime confrere to Ani DiFranco (who appears briefly and unobtrusively here). As a composer he favors a straightforward rhythmic thrust and deceptively simple melodies; the most intricate developments tend to occur in a hazy middle register, where layered chords agglomerate and shift. Crucial to this balance is the rapport of a working band, cultivated within the eclectic Brooklyn scene. Some individual playing stands out - the trombonist Alan Ferber and the guitarist Mike Gamble both distinguish themselves - but nothing outshines the collective sound. Obviously Mr. Sickafoose, who augments his bass playing with assorted work on keyboard and mallet-percussion instruments, has a band identity in mind here. He achieves it with a rigorously focused imagination, and with no apparent strain. - by Nate Chinen - New York Times [June 23, 2008]
Shane Endsley (trumpet); Ben Wendel (tenor sax, bassoon); Alan Ferber (trombone); Skerik (baritone sax); Adam Levy (guitar, acoustic guitar); Mike Gamble (guitar, effects); Allison Miller (drums, percussion); Simon Lott (drums, percussion): Todd Sickafoose (acoustic and electric bass, piano, wurlitzer, vibraphone, marimba, bells, celeste, accordian through a Leslie); Andrew Bird (violin, looping, whistling); Ani Difranco (voice, telephone mic, electric ukelele)