By Dustin Krcatovich | Published May 2020
There’s a distinctly camp aesthetic to trombonist Audrey Ochoa’s work. But it’s a bit hard to tell the irony-to-sincerity ratio when both her melodies and visuals lift from the likes of Herb Alpert.
A pair of tracks on Frankenhorn are run through the electronics wringer by Battery Poacher, but rather than taking the risks a Colin Stetson or Robert Glasper might take with technology, the songs mostly just end up sounding like Flaming Lips instrumentals from about 20 years ago. Elsewhere, the sounds are even less adventurous, hewing closely to mainstream jazz-pop. A few tracks here find Ochoa making a foray into working with strings, and while the arrangements are a bit syrupy, they’re not unpleasant. There also are some fun quasi-Latin tinges on tracks like “Bunganga,” which still seems campy, though buoyant and energetic.
The bandleader has a confident way with a melody, and her playing is big and bright. If her band takes precious few risks, they do so in the interest of giving their intended audience a good time. And with that goal in mind, Frankenhorn is perfectly serviceable. Not everything needs to be at the vanguard, of course, but Ochoa’s music would benefit from her and her compatriots pushing a bit further.
Frankenhorn: Swamp Castles; Benchwarming; Silver Linings; The Huggy Dance; Bunganga; Groundhog Day; Postcards; My Reward. (38:57)
Personnel: Audrey Ochoa, trombone; Chris Andrew, piano, keyboards; Sandro Dominelli, drums (1, 3); Mike Lent, bass (1, 3, 8); Luis Tovar (2, 5), Raul Tabera (2), percussion (2); Rubim De Toledo, bass (5); Kate Svrcek, violin; Shannon Johnson, violin; Ian Woodman, cello; Battery Poacher, production (4, 6).