In the humorous and heartfelt liner notes he wrote for Leon, his third album with his seven piece ensemble The Chabones, trumpeter/flugelhornist and multi-instrumentalist Michael Sarian shares a lot of words about his red hair and the “ginger stigma” and a childhood bowl haircut – all of which seems to have empowered him to be proud of being unique.
Fortunately, the music themed after these musings veers off the beaten path in a cool, charming way as well. He overcomes the redhead stigma because he looks like a “Leon” (lion), a track that’s as much funky grooving rock and roll as feisty, improvisational jazz with a powerhouse solo by saxman Jim Piela. Two other hair related tracks are the percussively dense, polyrhythmic “Casquito,” the album’s prime showcase for Sarian’s sizzling facility for improvisation; and the darkly mournful “Colorado Yeta” (translates to “bad luck ginger”), which adds poignancy to the musical autobiography.
While most of the tracks are likeably tuneful, “No. 3” seems designed as a showcase for drummer Josh Bailey with a lot of odd, cacophonous noise. Curiously, Sarian and company felt that it merited an even odder, electronica driven atmospheric “Locus St. Remix.”