First briefing for your darling babbler with LA’s Slumgum, composed of drummer Trevor Anderies, saxophonist Jon Armstrong, pianist Rory Cowal and bassist David Tranchina. Quardboard Flavored Fiber is their second release, and if there are three things that I would attempt to utter about influences and similarities to other kinds of music, they might spell more or less like this: 1) Soft Machine 2) ECM 3) Solid, well-played jazz occasionally informed by (very slight) extra-American accents. In essence, the quartet is tight as a torniquet – thanks, Roger Waters – and executes all scores with an appreciable level of accuracy and refinement, to the point that the improvised parts also sound previously rehearsed. This usually represents a major minus in respect to this writer’s commandments, but here’s the trick: the material is good, not the “two-bar theme, then devil take the hindmost” kind of insolent rubbish we’ve been inundated with thousands of hypertechnical nonentities for the last two decades. No, here every member knows each other’s pockets as their own, knowing when the time is right to push the pedal down and when instead it is much better leaving quietness and a touch of mystery to decide the music’s orientation. In some of the tracks, the tendency to superimpose repetitive patterns is balanced by brilliant contrapuntal openings that – in an episode such as “Puce Over Pumpkin With A Hint Of Lime” – exude pure class, with a special mention to Cowall’s discerningly functional intuitions.