Trippers & Askers “Acorn”

Sleepy Cat Records, 2021

Trippers & Askers comes up with a brilliant Americana/Spiritual Jazz combo that should certainly end up on the best of the year lists.

We’ve seen/heard so many things incorporated into Americana. Some work perfectly, some flop miserably. From rock to world music and jazz, it has all been there. When it does work though, we get some intricate, imaginative, and above all, exciting music. And now, with Trippers & Askers’ album ‘Acorn’ we get all that, maybe more.

Actually, behind Tripper & Askers is one Jay Hammond and his vision here gets support from members of artists that are probably quite familiar to readers of these pages – Wye Oak, Elephant Micah, and Califone, but also from names that should be familiars to those that also visit spiritual jazz pages, namely Sun Ra Arkestra member Ken Moshesh.

Mixing some more genre-bending tendencies is hard enough in itself, but Hammond brings in another contextual element that makes his task here even harder.  He draws his inspiration from dystopian visions of Octavia Butler and her novel ‘Parable of the Shower.’

And instead of making this Americana/Spiritual Jazz mix a complete hodgepodge, or flop, if you will, Hammond turns into a brilliant example of how and why Americana is such a potent musical ground for combining different musical elements into something great to listen to.

Even more so, Hammonds’s mellifluous compositions here and almost impeccable playing and singing make themes like climate change, wealth inequality, religious fundamentalism, and corporate greed something to ponder even more about.

‘Acorn’ deserves to be on any Americana ‘best of the year’ list, for sure.


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