Mike Field's third album, Attic Jump, already nominated for a Toronto Independent Music Award (TIMA), is a real departure from his earlier works Ashes and Rush Mode and moves in a very bold and thrilling new direction, with high-energy groove and danceable swing. The title track jump-starts your listening engine for the ride you’re about to take. With the introduction of some hot guitar licks via Craig Stull into Field’s work, the songs are filled with New Orleans bounce, Brian Setzer-styled rockabilly and Santana-like guitar solos, plus Count Basie-esque, high, tinkling trills on the piano by Mark Camilleri, as in the jumpin’ jive tune “One Time in Tibet.”
As if that isn’t enough, Field interjects and seamlessly weaves even more jazz strands into the mix, where Django Reinhardt gypsy guitar meets Dixieland clarinet meets bebop brass (including William Carn on trombone) on songs like “The Last Trip Home.”
Field’s writing continues to be heavily influenced by his travelling experiences, as evidenced by the aforementioned titles, as well as with “Train Station Frustration” – where Field’s love for Latin jazz grooves like the rhumba shines through, with layers of Santana-styled guitar, Charlie Palmieri staccato piano and awesome wailing trumpet throughout – and “High Altitude,” a sunny pop Andrews Sisters type of melody from the ‘40s.
More travelling encounters have spawned songs such as “Autopilot” – Field’s nod to “Hit the Road Jack,” with the four-note descending background lick that’s finger-snappin’ good, allowing for the players to stretch a bit more in the solos – and the incredible “Dance of the Biometrics,” which was inspired by customs officials constantly asking for more biometric data every time you cross the border (fingerprints, retinal scans, voice recognition, portraits, etc.). The latter tune has a more Eastern European flavor, with a klezmer/polka rhythm (led by groove masters Steve Heathcote on drums and Scott Alexander on bass), that evokes a silent movie soundtrack for a Charlie Chaplin or Keystone Cops chase sequence. Saxophonist Vern Dorge (whose tone and dexterity is impeccable throughout the album) wails over choppy, hysterical piano in this Jewish-wedding romp.
Amongst all of the upbeat, toe-tapping fun is the lone, slow melody “Sing to the Evening,” a lullabye that features soulful, passionate vocals by jazz songstress Sophia Perlman, who also appeared on Field’s last album.
Attic Jump is full of jumpin’ jive, and combines many other classic jazz elements with a modern spin that perfectly showcases Field’s deftly honed trumpeting prowess, as well as the masterful musicianship of some of the country’s finest session musicians.