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Chris Washburne and the SYOTOS Band: Land of Nod (2007)

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Chris Washburne and the SYOTOS Band: Land of Nod How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The current political climate in the US is ripe for (and rife with) comment. Several calls have come for criticism—and with Land of Nod, Chris Washburne adds his voice to them. There are no lyrics on the recording, but the titles of his compositions and the strong message of the liner notes get the message across.

The first three tunes gather the colors of the American flag in the way Washburne sees them. And so, red, white and blue come off as "Pink, "Off-White and "Blue Gust, which in his view is a pale shade of blue. But there is nothing washed out about the music. Washburne uses several Latin music idioms, turning the tunes into stirring sentinels for his call, and the band comes up strong and torrid, playing with conviction and passion. Pianist Barry Olsen sets up "Pink before Washburne adds a Latin sinew on the trombone. Olsen contrasts the approach with lighter shading, the balance split by John Walsh's trenchant trumpet.

A funky bass line from Leo Traversa gets "Off-White going. The music sidles down several avenues, its flavour wound around the melodic motif and realised delectably until Ole Mathisen takes his tenor saxophone into a riptide with jabbing phrases. The third tune steps in with a jaunt. Washburne swipes in the melody, indulging in it and leading Walsh, whose take extends its body. The horns interweave, the pulse gets hotter, and Olsen romps in with a happy disposition. Melody is key here, and it saturates the playing until Mathisen goes off on a tangent of pithy lines.

Chris Washburne has more to say, and he fashions "Guantanomo as a lament before it flexes into a rhythmic swish, drums and congas laying the bed for the front line; Walsh makes the strongest impact with his heart-wrenching playing. It all comes to a head on the two "Peace tunes, each of which offers its own vision of the process. The first, by Ornette Coleman, lights a gradual fire; the other, from the heart of Horace Silver, is a beseeching lament that cuts a deep swath.

Track Listing: Pink; Off-White; Blue Gust; Op-Ed; Oi Ne Khody Hrytsin Tai na Vechornytsi; Guantanomo; Land of Nod; Peace; Peace.

Personnel: Chris Washburne: trombone and percussion; John Walsh: trumpet; Ole Mathisen: tenor saxophone and clarinet; Barry Olsen: piano; Leo Traversa: bass; Vince Cherico: drums; Chembo Corniel: congas. Special Guests: Bobby Sanabria: percussion; Maiken Derno: Korean gong.

Record Label: Jazzheads

Style: Latin/World


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