“Put Together Funny” seems to sum it up

I was recently introduced to the music of Sam Trapchak, who headlines a group called “Put Together Funny,” and their new jazz album is called “Lollipopocalypse.” As I learned more about Sam and his group, their name seems to fit pretty well. But in this case, I’m not interpreting “funny” as in “ha ha,” but “funny” as in “deviating from the usual or expected,” because this album is “put together” in an unexpected way.

Case in point: an easy assumption is that kids don’t grow up listening to jazz, and people in their 20’s tend to like rap, rock and pop much more so than jazz. But Trapchak is a 27 year old bassist who composes and plays his music as if he’s been immersed in jazz for decades. Another unexpected thing is that Trapchak, as the bassist, is the bandleader of this group. One tends to think of bassists as being in the background, but then again, a quick bit of research shows that it’s not such an odd idea after all, when one considers other bassists/leaders such as Ron Carter, Jaco Pastorius, and Marcus Miller, to name a few.

sam trapchak, bassist, and his new album Put Together Funny

In addition to Sam Trapchak on bass, the group also features Tom Chang on guitar, Greg Ward on alto saxophone, and Arthur Vint on drums. They say that although jazz is their common ground, the group draws from each member’s proficiency in a variety of other genres such as heavy metal, country, and afro-beat to create a unique sound. And unique it is, as the first song “Different Dance” is aptly named. I’m not sure one could dance to it, as the tempo shifts gears numerous times, but it is an engaging song, and I think it’s exactly because of the tempo shifts that causes one to pay closer attention to what they’re playing.

The idea of shifting takes root in three different ways on track 2, titled “On the Cusp of Cancer.” The song seems to shift between styles, tempo and sound … it starts off with rock elements, bringing to mind Miles Davis’ electric period. The guitar solo in the early part of the song could make a home on any good rock album. But then all of a sudden the song changes into a quiet drum-tapping beat, allowing Trapchak a quiet but sophisticated bass solo, which then shifts again, with the emergence of the sax bringing a melody which almost makes it seem like the 3rd song within-a-song. But then the driving beat comes back and the rock re-emerges, with Ward playing on top with some Ornette Coleman-like wails. With the groove now set, there’s one more abrupt shift, and the song is over. I think I need to listen to that one again … right now!

Put Together Funny, jazz group led by Sam Trapchak

The 4th track, “Tongue and Groove,” is another of our favorites on this album, and it’s followed by “Losing You,” which slows one down into ballad mode with beautiful phrases carried by saxophonist Ward. Trapchak allows himself one of his longer solos on “Precious Few,” and the album concludes with the title piece, “Lollipopocalypse.”

All in all, a very enjoyable album, but one that requires you to pay attention, especially if you want to appreciate all of the subtle elements and how they interact with each other. It’s refreshing to hear music that jumps up to the forefront of my attention and makes me stop multi-tasking. Considering that these guys play gigs in NYC, which is a short commute from Artsology’s HQ in New Jersey, we’re going to have to find “Put Together Funny” and see them live – and suggest that you check them out as well! For more information on Sam Trapchak, Put Together Funny, and their music, visit the website at samtrapchak.com.

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