The Flying Luttenbachers have quite an impressive history for a band whose lineup seems to be constantly in flux. The one constant is drummer Weasel Walter, who formed the band in Chicago in 1991. Walter was a fan and pupil of Hal Russell, leader of the explosive NRG Ensemble. Walter’s friend Chad Organ (tenor sax) joined them and the trio became the Flying Luttenbachers. That lineup made its first and only public appearance February 6, 1992 on a college radio station. Live at WNUR, released originally on cassette but reissued on CD, is similar to some of Russell’s NRG Ensemble work, but more frenzied and loosely constructed. This is the Luttenbachers at their closest to pure jazz; it is fast and furious, upbeat and funny. The band’s ethos is already evident: short bursts of noise strung together with energetic abandon, yet somehow evincing an aura of control and overall melody.
Walter moved toward more structured material, and Russell quit the band. Walter recruited Ken Vandermark (sax and clarinets; subsequently in NRG, DKV, and the Vandermark 5), whom he had met playing in Anthony Braxton’s Orchestra. This trio recorded 546 Seconds of Noise, followed shortly by a second 7-inch, 1389 Seconds of Noise.
For the Luttenbachers’ first proper LP, Constructive Deconstruction, Walter, Organ and Vandermark were joined by Dylan Posa on electric guitar and Jeb Bishop on bass and trombone. The music embraces more of a punk rock/no wave aesthetic than was evident on Live at WNUR. Vandermark captures the spirit of Hal Russell but shows more range, inserting beautiful threads of melody along with squawks and honks. Posa’s prominent guitar is a prime factor in making this more of a rock record.
Destroy All Music was made by the same lineup as Constructive Deconstruction and resembles it, but Vandermark is credited as a guest on half the songs. The no wave influence is very apparent. It isn’t a prime Luttenbacher effort mainly because it doesn’t evince a huge leap of progress, as their other albums do.
Revenge of the Flying Luttenbachers is a turning point, from punk jazz to metal jazz. Dispensing with horns, Walter is joined by Chuck Falzone on guitar and Bill Pisarri on bass, violin, clarinet, etc. Walter sticks mostly with drums, but does play saxophone on a few tracks. The band has the texture and feel of traditional rock, but the songs are anything but. Quick bursts of noisy energy and improvisation are joined by extended guitar riffs and balls-out cock-rock — at times, the album resembles death metal, tempered by the sensibilities of avant-garde jazz.
Moving on from the incredibly tight and clean-sounding Revenge, Gods of Chaos (by the same lineup) is loose and sprawling, dense noise bleeding into extended soundscapes and compositions informed by minimalism. Some moments display the depth of the Dead C and the creativity of the Boredoms, while still entrenched in the Luttenbachers ethos of loud jazz.