Friday, 3 October 2008

Lawson Dodds Wood: Numbers. First thoughts

An Exciting new release today, one that I've been waiting for ever since seeing the trio at Greenbelt this year. Greenbelt fave Steve Lawson has teamed up with a couple of excellent chums in Drummer Roy Dodds And keys/guitarist Patrick Wood to form an Improv jazz 'power trio', Lawson Dodds Wood. All the music is totally improvised including a few overdubs of sax, clarinet and voice on a few tracks, and then edited into a more concise release. All titles are given numbers, hence the title. As an added bonus for early orders, there is a download file of four of the raw unedited tracks, including one, 'Number 3' not included on the actual release proper.

It starts with the piece entitled 'Number 5' with chopped wah wah rhythms under a pentatonic gamelan motif. It evolves as Jazz is wont to do into more standard fare perhaps, but impeccably executed. Nice ebb and flow as 'Coltrane lite' sax and some clarinet winds around the themes, ending n a nice bubbly synth sound. At 14 minutes, the longest track.

 'Number 1' has a wonderful ghostly underwater organ sound and is more moody, 'Number 7 part two' begins with a nice pulsing bass and promises much, but fades out just as the groove is imposing itself on your conscious.

'Number 6' begins with some guitar harmonics and voice and a wonderful simple but effective bass line, before more mellow sax takes a melody, and then acoustic guitar tabla-esque percussion and the voice create a not quite jazz/world music melange. Very tasteful.

with 'Number 2' beginning with bass loops and discordant key sounds and Fender Rhodes, there is the merest hint of a skeletal song, phrases stating a construct, with the spaces emphasizing the tone which tenor sax then lightly skips between. Nice drum work on this. Nice slow ly dwindling ending that evolves into a slightly discordant coda.

'Number 4' Drum entrance that reminds me of the live version of Genesis 'I know What I like'  jazzy guitar, shimmering bass. definitely picking up a vague Genesis vibe, even some Lamb lies down-esque keyboard sounds. Gently ebbing and flowing, pulsing even. It morphs into acoustic guitar taking the lead in a more traditional jazz way.

'Number 7 part 1' - staccato discord leading to tentative keys that slowly revolve into melodic resolution., though that threat of harmonic clashes always remains. Nice use of distortion. Its these shorter tracks that almost justify the release as an album, and shows thought has been expended on programming something pleasurable. This piece end son a slightly tentative note, enticing the listener that there is hopefully more to come, the tension has been set up, the release to be granted with more music to come. Lets hope, at any rate!

On this first listen I have to admit to not taking in too much of the percussion, which for me, being a drummer, means it is played impeccably and precisely, not becoming too obtrusive. At  the  Greenbelt gig, I was entranced by Dodds as he flew from controlled power to absolute perfection of deftness of touch. On this release it errs on the side of that deftness of touch, perfectly fitting the context of the Album (can we call them that these days?).

A fantastic album! Jazz? Possibly, though the music certainly 'slants', it never stays on one genre long enough to pigeonhole it completely. There is much depth to it, great for quiet contemplation, and will certainly get many, many repeated plays. If they ever play in your neck of the woods, don't miss them, its time for a tour now lads!

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