Praise for Velvet Coup

Loose Wig is a quartet of adventurous jazz musicians who are based in the San Francisco area. Their frontline is formed by tenor-saxophonist Ben Fajen and guitarist Mike Abraham while bassist Sam Bevan and drummer Bryan Bowman have very active roles, making the group into a true musical democracy.

On Velvet Coup, Loose Wig performs 11 group originals; eight by Bevan, two from Bowman and one by Abraham. The music could be called modern post bop jazz in that, while the improvising is chordal-based, the compositions, structures and rhythmic accents are complex and fresh. These are not the type of tunes that are heard at typical jam sessions!

The music swings in its own way, with the saxophonist and the guitarist often playing the tricky melodies in unison. The opening “Ann Uncompromised” has Fajen and Abraham trading and echoing each others ideas almost instantly. The interplay between the musicians (they all have big ears) is apparent throughout this set, whether it is the jazz waltz “Sweetback,” the ominous-sounding “Revencers” (which has a pattern in 5/4 stated by bassist Bevan), the spooky ensemble ballad “A Faint Glimmer In Remembrance,” or the post bop swinging of “The Sound Of Midnight.”

Fajen’s cool tone and Abraham’s versatility, along with the tight rhythm section, make even the most complex music on Velvet Coup seem accessible. Recommended.

Scott Yanow 
(Review written for L.A. Jazz Scene magazine —
Scott has written ten books, including The Jazz Singers, Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76)

Praise for Live at the Jazz School

This set by Loose Wig features the quartet (tenor-saxophonist Ben Fajen, guitarist Mike Abraham, bassist Sam Bevan and drummer Bryan Bowman) performing nine originals at Berkeley’s Jazz School. All four of the musicians have important roles in the music with the episodic tunes and the intuitive but logical improvisations inspiring each of them to stay very alert. The tightness of the group (Abraham and Bevan in particular seem to think as one) is impressive.

Loose Wig always swings even when the chord changes are complex, and the individual solos are consistently outstanding. Bassist Bevan has a strong spot on “Presque Vu,” guitarist Abraham’s statements are constantly full of surprises, Fajen puts plenty of feeling into the melancholy jazz waltz “Now’s Not The Time” (hinting a bit at Warne Marsh’s tone), and Bowman’s understated drumming should not be overlooked. They have plenty of opportunities to stretch out, particularly on the ten-minute “Blues (In 5)” which, quite typically, is not a blues. All of the chord changes on this program are original and the post bop music is generally difficult to categorize as anything but high-quality modern jazz.

A play-by-play analysis is unnecessary. Suffice it to say that Live At The Jazz School will satisfy lovers of creative jazz.

Scott Yanow 
(Review written for L.A. Jazz Scene magazine —
Scott has written ten books, including The Jazz Singers, Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76)

Scott Yanow

LooseWig always swings even when the chord changes are complex, and the individual solos are consistently outstanding.

Scott Yanow - L.A. Jazz Scene

Aileen Robbins

"LooseWig Jazz has provided their original and standard jazz melodies during our annual Toast of the Town San Francisco event at the War Memorial Opera House for the past three years. Their engaging performance, which took place on two different levels of the Opera House, added immeasurably to the ambiance of the event, and to its success in general. Ben and his team are not just excellent, creative musicians but also very professional, and a pleasure to work with."

Aileen Robbins, Event Producer, Wine Enthusiast Companies

Praise for LooseWig (Debut Recording)

While LooseWig is currently a sextet based in Portland, Oregon, back in 2004 when it was a new band, the quartet consisted of tenor-saxophonist Ben Fajen, guitarist Mike Abraham, bassist George Ban-Weiss and drummer Bryan Bowman. From the start, the band had its own sound, featuring plenty of close interplay between the four musicians along with solos that were both explorative and swinging.

The group’s debut recording, which is simply called LooseWig, has not dated or lost its vitality in the slightest. It is quite enjoyable hearing what was really the birth of a band as LooseWig stretches out on 11 diverse compositions.

The set begins with “Black Narcissus,” one of several numbers heard on this CD that are associated with Joe Henderson. Henderson and to a lesser extent Michael Brecker and Hank Mobley are influences on Ben Fajen although, even in 2004, he already had his own sound and approach to playing modern post-bop jazz. His solo on “Black Narcissus,” with guitarist Abraham riffing behind him along with the active rhythm section, is a highlight.

Bryan Bowman’s “Mars Passing” is most notable for the very original tone of Abraham and the way his playing is quite complementary to Fajen’s. “Blues In 5” is not strictly a blues (it is more like an extended and augmented “Summertime”) but it is in 5/4 time and is a bluish exploration. “Soul Cowboy” is actually a blues, a swinging performance that gives all four musicians opportunities to shine.

The whimsical waltz “Ju Ju” has some fairly free improvising and interplay. The band somehow sounds effortless on Bowman’s tricky melody line to “Like Minds” which precedes a tasteful interpretation of Thelonious Monk’s “’Round Midnight.” A pair of Joe Henderson compositions, “Inner Urge” and “Isotope,” inspires inventive yet mostly melodic solos along with many heated moments. As if its chord changes are not challenging enough. LooseWig takes John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” as an uptempo jazz waltz, an unusual treatment that inspires some highly original solos. This impressive debut concludes with a straightforward guitarless trio version of “All The Things You Are.”

LooseWig’s first recording, which is filled with top-notch jazz improvising and strong melodies, was not only a strong start for the group but resulted in an easily recommended set of timeless jazz.

Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian