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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Lawnmower: Lawnmower II

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Drummer Luther Gray described in the liner notes to West, Lawnmower's 2010 Clean Feed debut, that the record was an attempt to reconcile the various genres he'd worked in throughout his career--an all-inclusive approach that could be traced back to the stylistically diverse music he listened to on a Walkman while mowing lawns in his youth. Lawnmower II, the quartet's sophomore effort, reinforces Gray's initial inspiration, conjuring aural impressions of the lazy, hazy days of summer.The new album features some surprising personnel changes; Gray and expressive alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs remain as the sole original members, whose shared ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Lawnmower: West

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Eminent progressive jazz drummer Luther Gray rekindled the spirit of his youth when he listened to music, via his Walkman, while mowing the lawn. With a dual-guitar and bass-less lineup, this ensemble professes a unique identity as it intertwines blues, rock and the perimeters of free jazz into a cleverly designed forum. Here, the musicians inconspicuously dish out an album that carries a mark of distinction On “One," guitarists Geoff Farina and Dan Littleton launch the festivities with a psychedelic, blues-inflected motif, spiced with tremolo and a laidback groove. Alto saxophonist Gary Hobbs then ups the ante via ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Lawnmover: West

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Drummer Luther Gray explains in the brief liner notes to West, the debut of his ensemble Lawnmower, that the album is an attempt to reconcile the various genres he has worked in throughout his musical development. From his early days spent in punk bands like Tsunami, to his jazz-oriented work as a sideman with fellow Bostonians Jim Hobbs, Joe Morris and Steve Lantner, Gray has built a diverse discography founded on one common denominator--quality.This session encapsulates Gray's wide-reaching interests with the assistance of three empathetic peers. Criminally under-sung, saxophonist Jim Hobbs is one of the most creative and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Morris / Petr Cancura / Luther Gray: Wildlife

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Widely revered in avant-garde music circles for his innovative approach to the electric guitar, Joe Morris' decision to take up the contrabass in 2002 was initially met with apprehension from certain corners of the new music community. Fears that the singular guitarist might disavow his primary axe have been dispelled, replaced by a burgeoning parallel discography charting Morris' remarkable growth as a bassist.

Wildlife is the most recent document of Morris' increasingly impressive bass prowess and his first release for AUM Fidelity since 2001's solo guitar recording Singularity. For this freewheeling trio session, Morris partners with Luther Gray, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jim Hobbs / Joe Morris / Luther Gray: The Story Of Mankind

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There are numerous precedents for alto sax-bass-drums trios, and it's to the credit of this one that they manage to stake out their own territory in a well-populated area. Whilst the music they make is rooted in free bop territory they also have no qualms about covering more rarefied ground and the results are by turns compelling and individual.

Their collective cause is served in no small part by the eloquence of alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs.. Whilst he has something of Jemeel Moondoc's rhythmic flexibility, the tartness of his sound is entirely his own, particularly in the horn's middle and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Geoff Farina / Luther Gray / Nate McBride: Out Trios, Volume 4: Almanac

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There's a tremendous amount of ambivalence about the Atavistic label--all at once a paragon of progressivism, championing a rich legacy of forward-thinking free music, and among the foremost agents in the historicizing of free jazz. The atavism here suggests much more than an earlier, more primal passion; there is, more crucially, the sting of old processes at work, embalming the new and unfamiliar.

It's particularly heartening, then, when an album like Almanac rears its head. The Out Trios series, meant to team up improvisers of different backgrounds in unusual, often unlikely contexts, has been a mixed success; it's a sink ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Geoff Farina / Luther Gray / Nate McBride: Out Trios Volume Four: Almanac

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Guitarist Geoff Farina, founder of the seminal 1990s indie rock band Karate, has been slowly but surely woodshedding his collegiate jazz chops. Karate was a far more progressive, improvisational ensemble than its fellow emo brethren, and Farina's augmented jazz chording foreshadowed greater things to come. His simultaneous stint in the folksy Secret Stars provided him with an opportunity to stretch dynamically in an acoustic setting. These two sound worlds have yielded a far different crop of music than his early admirers could have foreseen.

Fast forward ten years and Farina now travels in the company of some of ...



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