Clamnation
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Clamnation is an energetic Milwaukee combo featuring a fat front line (with a nice
baritone/trumpet blend) and favoring an idiomatic mix between quirky Bop and
various groove musics (the complex syncopations abetted by Presser’s percussion).
They generally play in a straight-ahead style, with a churning energy, heard not
least in the very active rhythm and comping (particularly from the occasionally over-
exuberant Dietz). “Song to a Rose,” for example, could be lifted right off a vintage
Lee Morgan date with Grant Green. This is an idiomatic flavor that seems to be
endlessly pleasing to listeners. As is often the case with this kind of disc, the solos
are sometimes too lengthy (and Breiwick’s double time lines sometimes don’t come
off too well), but the vibe is pleasant (particularly on “The Sylph,” which bubbles
with laid-back energy). To me, they sound much more confident on lightly funky
materials such as “Mr. Casty” (where Dietz in particular is in good form) or on more
idiomatic tunes like “Cabeza Rojo” and “East Henry Clay” (with fine work from
Breiwick and Pauers). The wah-wah driven “Crack Snacker,” however, doesn’t really
work. But, taken as a whole, Clamnation is a good time (albeit with some occasional
rough edges.
- Cadence Magazine


Fronted by their tag-team horn playing, and centered on the compositional duo of saxophonist Mike Pauers and trumpeter Jamie Breiwick, Clamnation’s latest release, Volume III: Malacology, finds the band in sophisticated and eclectic territory not readily found anywhere else on the local scene. Testimony to the band’s experience and diversity of influences (they began as a blues/punk combo back in 1989), Clamnation’s third studio effort seamlessly infuses soul, funk and Latin rhythms into traditional jazz foundations. With a paranoid wah-wah groove and funky back-alley bass line, Breiwick’s “Crack Snacker” walks the line between bands like Medeski Martin and Wood and the Meters; while Pauers’ “IHOP,” complete with his baritone sax farting out the low ends like it had too many red beans, is from a highly danceable second line strain found in the likes of some spacier Galactic jams. Yet, at their core the band is a bop roots exploration tinged with Latin-flavored beats and a youthful, inventive mindset. Firmly rooted in their own record collections throughout (surely rich in Mingus, Monk, etc.), Clamnation is taking Milwaukee jazz in an excitingly original, fresh direction. A CD release party is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 3 within the cozy confines of the Jazz Estate. With proceeds going to the Backbeat Fund, a charity dedicated to assisting New Orleans musicians affected by Hurricane Katrina, any other plans for Saturday night are unthinkable. Todd Lazarski - Shepherd Express


CD Title: Volume 3: Malacology Year: 2005 Record Label: Clamnation Style: Progressive Musicians: Jamie Breiwick (trumpet & fleugelhorn), Mike Pauers (baritone and tenor saxes), Brian Dietz (guitar), Dave Dinauer (bass), Tom Presser (congas & percussion) and Jay Arpin (drums and percussion)

Review: When you think of the state of Wisconsin, several things come to mind.  Among them, beer, cheese, the Green Bay Packers, etc.  Whats next?  The next best kept secret is a Milwaukee-based sextet that calls itself Clamnation.  Although they have played in the Milwaukee music scene since 1990, this current lineup celebrates it's tenth anniversary with their third release, Volume 3: Malacology.

The members of Clamnation have musical interests blending Latin jazz and post-bop with other world music influences. They began in 1989 as a blues/punk combo: The Clams before evolving a year later and reinventing themselves as Clamnation.  Having played at several Milwaukee area events over the years, you'd think that they would have expanded their musical quest outside of Southeast Wisconsin by now.

To understand where they are coming from, check out the horn section. Trumpet player Jamie Breiwick and saxophonist Mike Pauers are both the principal composers and the nucleus for every track on the CD. The fact that this jazz-fusion lineup is lead by a horn section should make those guys from Chicago green with envy.  "The Sapling," the fist track, kicks off with a traffic jam trumpet horn intro and segues into the song that has the entire band in a post-bob/free format.  Pauers' solo sings of Coltrane.  The percussion team of Tom Presser and Jay Arpin provides a slight Latin tinge.  "How Do You Know" and "Cabeza Rojo" establishes the horn section as it blends both Pauers and Breiwick together and trading off each other's solos.  At the same time, they never try to overshadow their bandmates whose individual contribution shine, especially Presser, who on congas,shows how he throws down the gauntlet.

Highlights include "Crack Snacker" which starts with a danceable bass riff followed by an adequate chicken scratch guitar riff by Dietz, thus frming a soulful, funky acid jazz piece.  "IHOP," which features Breiwick on flugelhorn, is an infectious mid-funk tune in which he and Pauers keep the solos heavy on improvisation while cooperating with each other to keep the track from sounding dull. Breiwick and Pauers help to keep tracks like "East Henry Clay" and "Akimbo" from sounding weak, save for "The Sylph."

Despite a few glitches, this CD does have several moments and this lineup has what it takes, especially if they can make a little more noise and expand their improvisational skills on their next recording.  If they can do that, Clamnation would no longer become the next best kept secret in Wisconsin.
Tracks: The Sapling, Song To a Rose, Mr. Casty, Cabeza Rojo, East Henry Clay, Akimbo, Crack Snacker, The Sylph, IHOP, How Do You Know? Reviewed by: James Dewey Davis - jazzreview.com


Discography

1.) Clamnation - "Turkish Market" - track contributed to "Live at the Nomad World Pub, Volume 1," released by the Nomad World Pub (Milwaukee, WI), 1997

2.) Clamnation Live - Independently released full-length CD, 1999

3.) Clamnation - Independently released full-length CD, 2000

4.) Volume III: Malacology - Independently-released full-length CD, 2005

We also appear on compliations released by Jazz in the Park (tune: IHOP, 2006), WMSE 91.7 (tune: The Sapling, 2007), and Stone Creek Coffee Roasters (tune: Cabeza Rojo, 2007).

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Bio

Clamnation began life in Milwaukee, WI, in or about 1990 as the blues/punk (yes, that's blues-slash-punk!) combo The Clams. The Clams gradually evolved to a more organic jazz sound, and that's when Clamnation was born - the child of the blues/punk Clams and the post-bop explorations of Charles Mingus, with a little Cal Tjader thrown in!

The current version of the band was formed in 1996, and incorporated the influences of artists like Dave Holland, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Chris Potter, Woody Shaw, and other masters of modern jazz while maintaining their free-er, "rougher" sounds derived from artists like Mingus and even the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. This blend of influences and styles has allowed them to carve out both a unique niche and rather long career in southeast Wisconsin.

Clamnation has performed at festivals like Summerfest, Jazz in the Park (Milwaukee, WI), the Third Ward Summer Sizzle (Milwaukee, WI), Jean's Jazz Series (Racine, WI), River Splash (Milwaukee, WI), and River Rhythms (Milwaukee, WI). Their latest release, "Volume III: Malacology," has earned rave reviews from local, national, and international press, and even earned them runner-up status in the Independent Music World Series.