CVS - Ad Hoc

CS Edition of 100. bandcamp link


Ad Hoc is this Spanish trio’s first release with which they’ve disguised themselves as a popular American drug store chain. There was an earlier cassette issued under the Cunningham/Volt/Serra banner, which is probably a more elucidating name, but brevity being the soul of wit (and all that), it’s surely more modern a choice to go with the acronym they occasionally employ. Acronyms, after all, suggest a kind of sleekness. And the music created by CVS is as sleek as a goddamn otter.

The line-up is unusual. Our great friend, Mark Cunningham (of Mars, Blood Quartet, etc.), plays trumpet. Trumpet is also the chosen “axe” of fellow Barcelonan underground musician, Pablo Volt. The third member, Andreu Serra (who also works and records widely under various soubriquets), focuses here on guitar and sax. I’m having a tough time naming another unit with this line-up, and indeed, CVS doesn’t sound quite like any other band I can easily conjure.

Both trumpeters work in a hybridized cool/avant tradition. Their lines certainly go “out” at times, but there’s none of the smear/fracture of Don Cherry, who is the main model for so many trumpeters. If you need to point fingers, Mark and Pablo’s styles might be said to share a resonance with the later work of Bill Dixon, although both of them favor warmer tones. Andreu’s approach to both sax and guitar is equally off-center, with outwardly-focused splange of strange but genteel nature.

But this is not a “jazz” album by any means. Cunningham (and his collusionists) have employed jazzoid moves as component parts of an avant/jazz/rock hybrid since the days of Don King (and maybe before.) The avant electronic passages and rockoid forward motion are huge parts of this music’s character. 

Ad Hoc is just another step on a path with a long, storied history and a luminous, infinite future.

–Byron Coley, 2022