184

Compassionate Dictatorship: Cash Cows

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Compassionate Dictatorship: Cash Cows Compassionate Dictatorship inhabits a musical space where modern jazz and '60s-era Canterbury scene progressive rock meet. It's a strange space, ready to trap the unwary in a muddle of English whimsy or to reward the more enlightened with warm melodies and inventive but accessible tunes. Compassionate Dictatorship is an enlightened combo and the reward is apparent on Cash Cows.

Cash Cows is the band's second album, following Coup D'Etat (FMR Records, 2007). Both albums share the same line-up—although drummer Ben Reynolds has since been replaced by James Maddren—but while the debut album was certainly enjoyable and inventive Cash Cows has a more refined feel to it, with both writing and playing showing more focus.

Compassionate Dictatorship has been compared to Anglo-American outfit Partisans, and there is certainly some similarity beyond simply the shared instrumental lineup. However, Compassionate Dictatorship has a gentler, more romantic, sound than Partisans, with the rhythm section of Reynolds and bassist Jasper Høiby generally favoring a more laidback and lyrical rhythmic style compared to the drive of Partisans' Thad Kelly and Gene Calderazzo.

The band's frontline of guitarist Jez Franks and saxophonist Tori Freestone both approach their instruments with precision. Franks' guitar playing is clean and assured, whether he's playing fluid single-note runs or rich chordal accompaniment. Freestone plays tenor and soprano saxophones—her full tenor tone contrasts well with the brighter sound of the guitar, while her soprano playing is consistently beautiful.

Franks' "Emotional Baggage" exemplifies Compassionate Dictatorship's gentler—more compassionate, indeed—sound. Franks' guitar and Freestone's tenor deliver a beautiful and melodic central theme over some admirably restrained and sympathetic work from Høiby and Reynolds. Freestone's soprano comes to the fore on the lovely "Alien Landscape" and Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now." The band stay close to the Mitchell classic's melody, as Freestone weaves deftly in and out, creating and relieving tension as she goes. "Mr Mish Mash" is an altogether more raucous affair as any tune inspired by meeting an annoying jazz fan at a Bulgarian festival should be, although even here the band calm down for a soothing few bars.

Cash Cows is a fine album of delightful tunes, excellent playing and tremendous warmth. If there was any financial justice in the world of jazz the album's title would not be ironic—but for now the members of Compassionate Dictatorship can rest easy in the knowledge that they have created one of the most engaging albums of 2010.

Track Listing: Mushroom Effect; The Winkel Picker; Alien Landscape; Mr Mish Mash; Computers; Six Degrees; Emotional Baggage; Both Sides Now.

Personnel: Jez Franks: electric guitar; Tori Freestone: saxophones; Ben Reynolds: drums; Jasper Høiby: acoustic bass.

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: FMR Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read LifeCycle CD/LP/Track Review LifeCycle
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Right Up On CD/LP/Track Review Right Up On
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Wanderlust CD/LP/Track Review Wanderlust
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Imagination CD/LP/Track Review Imagination
by Geannine Reid
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Evolution CD/LP/Track Review Evolution
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 23, 2017
Read On A Monday Evening CD/LP/Track Review On A Monday Evening
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 22, 2017
Read "Peace" CD/LP/Track Review Peace
by Budd Kopman
Published: December 18, 2016
Read "Super Petite" CD/LP/Track Review Super Petite
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 12, 2016
Read "2016" CD/LP/Track Review 2016
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 13, 2016
Read "Noumenon" CD/LP/Track Review Noumenon
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 26, 2016
Read "In The Corner Of The Eye" CD/LP/Track Review In The Corner Of The Eye
by Glenn Astarita
Published: July 10, 2016
Read "Wash My Horse In Champagne" CD/LP/Track Review Wash My Horse In Champagne
by James Nadal
Published: July 15, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!