CD Review – Jim Anton “High Highs and Low Lows”
Jim Anton, Minneapolis Chairman of the Low End releases eclectic solo album
Jim Anton will forever be the man who played a jaw dropping electric bass solo with a pig puppet on his left hand.
But it wasn’t just a gimmick during that crowded March night at Minneapolis’ legendary Cabooze. The wonderful thing about the solo was that is was performed by the porcine adornment, not simply played in spite of it. And that’s Anton at his best; a man of adaptation. He has served as chairman of the bottom-end for many diverse and high profile artists including Jackson Browne, David Crosby, Indigo Girls, Jack McDuff, Glen Phillips, The Jayhawks, Mandy Moore and more recently and notably, fellow Minnesotan bluesman Jonny Lang. Anton’s masterful flexibility, tweeter rumbling groove and distinctive tone always shone brightest with his eclectic band of Minneapolis power-pop/hip-hop funksters, Greazy Meal. (But, alas, our soldiers of soul have since disbanded leaving an unfillable void in the soundscape of the Twin Cities.
So when it came to my attention that there was a recent solo release from Jim Anton, I was all ears. To my delight High Highs and Low Lows didn’t disappoint. Anton comes with that eclectic combination of genres, high level musicianship and production and straight up old school funk that has defined the Minneapolis sound for over 30 years. A reminder that one, cold, midwestern city has brought us Dylan’s Blood On The Tracks, Prince’s Purple Rain, grunge rockers Soul Asylum’s Grave Dancers Union, rapper Atmosphere’s God Loves Ugly and countless others, many recorded only blocks away from each other.
This record, featuring the talents of former Greazy Meal mates Barry Alexander and Brian Gallagher, Mike Nelson (horn player for Prince’s New Power Generation), Jason Eskridge (long time Jonny Lang backing vocalist) and a number of other greats, unexpectedly opens on a gentle bouncing bit of hawaiian americana, highlighting lap steel virtuoso Kevin Barry.
The record floats style to style effortlessly and convincingly from world music (“Aboriginal”) to organic Santana-esque jazz (“Drunken Smile”) to a Bob Marley reggae tribute (“So Much Trouble/War”). Never does this record sound like a compilation and it’s no surprise. It’s cohesive like early ’70s FM radio, the kind that used to rule the airwaves in the Land of 10 Thousand Lakes. But the album’s sweet spot is the perfect funk medley “Mashed Inspiration” referencing Curtis Mayfield in one breath and James Brown the next; a fun “name that groove” for your music friends which, for the first time on the record, really reminds you that this is a bassist’s album, with that warm, crisp, classic tone front and center.
High Highs and Low Lows doesn’t end with a bang, but seems to just groove off into the distance, leaving the door open to the next chapter from Anton and his brilliant musical brethren.
We’ll be ready when you are gentlemen, but until then…
Live Well and Listen Closely,
read my previous interviews here:
Ray LaMontagne: www.nodepression.com/profiles/blogs/ray-lamontagne-gets-better-an
Betty Davis: www.nodepression.com/profiles/blogs/the-beautiful-dichotomy-of
Bettye LaVette: www.nodepression.com/profiles/blogs/becoming-bettye-lavette-an
Chocolate Genius, Inc.: www.nodepression.com/profiles/blogs/chocolate-genius-inc-marc
Eric Bibb: www.nodepression.com/profiles/blogs/blues-is-my-address-or-working
Special Thanks to my editor; Kellee Webb and Jim Anton