The last time the listening public had the opportunity to hear work from a disc featuring vibesman Mike Dillon’s name out front was back in 2007 on his “Battery Milk” disc. The last five years not yielding up a new record with the Texan’s name on it doesn’t mean he hasn’t been working, though. Issuing recordings alongside some supremely inspired jazzbos in Garage a Trois and the Dead Kenny Gs, which include Northwest saxophonist Skerik and keyboardist Marco Benevento, the latter counting as half the bill of Martyrs’ Saturday bill, only hints at what’s been caught on tape for Dillon’s latest effort. While the vibes player has been known to grab the mic and growl a few bars, “Urn,” his latest offering, ramps up the Tom Waits quotient to new territory. By the time listeners make it to “River is Burning,” the new disc shouldn’t be too shocking to anyone who’s stuck with it. So, the repeated pair of words, related in the scummiest, bassiest voice this side of latter-day Skrewdriver records, only serves to punctuate the funk/rock grooves the disc comprises. For the majority of its runtime, “Urn” deals in music tangential to Dillon’s better-known outfits. The noise emanating from “Fluorescent Sunburn” doesn’t fit into any single genre, but Dillon’s band supporting his augmented vibes allows for just about anything to happen—and the metallic transitions bear that out. Elsewhere, the album grabs ahold of NOLA devices and funky jazz history as “Demons” nods to out music of the seventies as much as contemporary grooves and loose funk. Turning the ensemble’s mood, “Ding Dong the Party is Over” echoes with Jamaican flair, before turning to a smooth bridge and back into that bounce. With such a range of approaches to modern-day jazz and jam stuff, Dillon’s able to captivate any crowd. And with Benevento on the same bill, folks can at least hope for a bit of off-the-cuff collaboration. (Dave Cantor)
September 22 at Martyrs’, 3855 North Lincoln, (773)404-9494, 9:30pm. $12-$15.