Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

184

Compassionate Dictatorship: Cash Cows

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
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 Both albums share the same line-up—although drummer Ben Reynolds has since been replaced by James Maddren—but while the debut album was certainly enjoyable and inventive Cash Cows has a more refined feel to it, with both writing and playing showing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.

Title: Cash Cows | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: FMR Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Live at Pyatt Hall CD/LP/Track Review Live at Pyatt Hall
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Flying Heart CD/LP/Track Review Flying Heart
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 23, 2018
Read The 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow CD/LP/Track Review The 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow
by John Sharpe
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Solano Canyon CD/LP/Track Review Solano Canyon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Lucas CD/LP/Track Review Lucas
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 22, 2018
Read In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording CD/LP/Track Review In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 22, 2018
Read "All Soundings Are True" CD/LP/Track Review All Soundings Are True
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 31, 2017
Read "Ziljabu Nights - Live at Theater Gutersloh" CD/LP/Track Review Ziljabu Nights - Live at Theater Gutersloh
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 22, 2017
Read "Loneliness Road" CD/LP/Track Review Loneliness Road
by Doug Collette
Published: October 1, 2017
Read "Paint" CD/LP/Track Review Paint
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 16, 2017
Read "Arise" CD/LP/Track Review Arise
by Phil Barnes
Published: November 10, 2017