Club Foot Orchestra

  • Club Foot Orchestra
  • Wild Beasts (Ralph) 1986 
  • Kidnapped (Ralph) 1987 
  • Nosferatu [tape] (Ralph) 1989 
  • The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari [tape] (Ralph) 1989 

In the years since the Lounge Lizards and Pigbag first made jazz a fashionable post-rock commodity, things have settled down enough that this eight-to-ten-person San Francisco horn-based ensemble can take some of its basic style from ’40s swing bands without making a heavy ironic statement. (That Club Foot Orchestra records for Ralph is more emblematic of the label’s changes than any fringeworthiness on the band’s part.) Trombonist Richard Marriott writes jazzy modern numbers that have nothing to do with Benny Goodman or Harry James, and the group arranges them for horns, violin, drums, etc. That’s about it. The results fall somewhere between Frank Zappa and the Ordinaires; a bit bland at times, but generally good, imaginative fun.

Wild Beasts is strictly instrumental and features contributions from the late Snakefinger; Kidnapped is dedicated to him, and has fine vocals by clarinetist Beth Custer on some tracks. The latest two tape-only releases are Marriott’s original scores composed for Ralph’s videocassette issues of the 1919 and 1921 German cinema classics.

[Ira Robbins]