In choosing the best whack jazz record, I believe you can’t really go by instrumental prowess, because in reality, all of these guys can play at the highest levels. The ones that can also conjure up sharp reactions in the listener’s mind that forces them to process what they heard and not be a passive listener are the kind of whack jazz music that does its job the best. That’s just the kind of primal sounds one hears coming from Tom Abbs’ Lost & Found. It socks you in the sonar solar flexes and just when you think you’ve figured it out, Abbs & Co. mixes it up with a flurry of jagged jabs to the harmonics. The spontaneity of these 18 tracks are compacted in short, intense spurts of expressive passages that rarely go longer than three minutes. That was by design, according to the bassist/cellist leader, who also picked up a tuba at times. Accompanied by saxophonist/flautist Brian Settles, violinist Jean Cook and drummer Chad Taylor, the four get out whatever alien sound is needed to give Abb’s compositions character and just the right mood. From the Alyer-isms found on “Lost” to the afro-centric grooves found on “Found,” Lost & Found is brimming with more ideas than a Mensa brainstorming session.
Back when I review this record six months ago, I was already thinking that it would end up in this spot: “I get the feeling that Lost And Found is going to be one of the more creative and standout free jazz records of the year.” And even though I’ve come across plenty of great avant garde jazz records since then, no one has struck that sweet spot more directly than Tom Abbs.