Model Citizens’s most recent manifestation in musical
sensationalism comes riding the wake of an almost twenty year infusion in experimental and improvisational jazz. Originally intended as Frank Romeo’s and Adrian McCloskey’s response to a need to stretch the
fabric of the repetitive trends of the late 1980’s, the musicians sought the intensity of variability in fusion. With the edition of Paul Briscoe on bass, they began a groove that would set them
up with enough fire to light a conflagration under the feet of the uninitiated and burn the tongues of those who knew the
score. In time, the band would create the bedrock from which their current incarnation
could sprout shoots and they have become the most burgeoning of blossoms to be had on the fusion scene. With the addition of Jungzoo Yoon licking flames on keys and David Aaron manipulating pulsing sax measures,
Model Citizens has found its way to certain musical tenacity.
Today’s eclectic combination joins the original musings in
score of Frank Romeo’s collection of intense as well as overtly ironic pieces with a classic homage to instrumentalists
who shaped both the genre and the individual members by way of inspiration. With the frenetic guitar and drums highlighted
in John McLaughlin’s Birds of Fire and the triple showcase of guitar, sax
and keys in Alan Holdsworth’s Letters of Marque, Model Citizens enjoys the
influence of the masters. Poignantly, the band can bring it down by way of the
haunting and the lyrical as they address Weather Report’s Havona with subtle
solicitude. Tunes like Proto Cosmos
by Allan Pasqua and Credit Reference Blues by Frank Gambale share equal praises
while encouraging continuity of the improv philosophy in intention, Most exciting, however, is the addition of some quixotic
creativity in the form of Romeo’s menacing opportunities for improvisational hardware.
His edgy Flat Earth Society establishes a cycle reminiscent of Pat Martino
and a million things Weather Report while Secret Desire is infinitely relatable
as “pop” fusion. The Pickle
Commission shows a journey of political corruption and correction through a segmented looking glass and In Defense of Kudzu proves rhythmically modulating as the structure accomplishes a spiritual openness found only
in the simplicity of the meld. Finally, Infinite
Regression captures a Caribbean-like lilt while evoking an oceanic, backward sync.
These things can only be accomplished by stellar attention to detail
and impeccable poise that are the keystones of the members of Model Citizens. Each player brings to the table experience and
attitude that elicits openly obsessive and disciplined manipulation of the form. Hailing
from America, Korea, and Canada, Model Citizens is indeed a robust mix. With credits that include The Halifax Experimental
Music Festival, the TD Canada Trust Atlantic Jazz Festival and collective venues played such as Madison Square Garden, The
Apollo Theater, The Knitting Factory, The Bottom Line, Kavehaz and Tonic, Model Citizens boasts a solid resume. Sharing the
stage from America’s Deep South to international showplaces with the likes of Lauryn Hill, Percy Jones, Liberty Devito,
Bill Ware, Kitty Brazelton, Marc Ribot, Brad Jones, E.J. Rodriguez and others, Model Citizens has accumulated the richness
of the road. All members have recorded and showcased their material separately and in conjunction with other artists with
remarkable success and each has studied with master musicians including at the Berklee College, NYU, The Manhattan School
of Music, with Sonny Payne (Count Basie and Harry James), the Bass Collective, The Drummers Collective, Charles Davis, Roy
Nathanson and George Panos.
“This is a musical marathon.,” says Paul Briscoe, and
the other members agree. In it for the long haul, they hope to keep fusion alive
for the younger generation while giving the traditional jazz connoisseur a chance to experience the edge. The energy of their
live performance mobilizes and their “no rules” philosophy stimulates. Model Citizens’s instant chemistry
and personal and emotional experiences help to express their collective vision: Through the looking glass, prism and cracks.