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Dominic Lash and Ricardo Tejero together

John Eyles By

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Among a host of other activities too numerous to catalogue, bassist Dominic Lash and saxophonist / clarinetist Ricardo Tejero are both long-standing stalwarts of the London Improvisers Orchestra, so it was almost inevitable that they would gravitate towards each other in a smaller grouping at some point, as had happened with other LIO regulars. But, as these recordings illustrate, they now collaborate not just in one grouping but two with similarly eclectic repertoires. Lash has history in jazz and free improvising groups but, in recent years, has increasingly performed more modern compositions, notably by Wandelweiser members. Tejero began as a self-taught alto saxophonist and has steadily developed into an impressive improviser and soloist. Most importantly, when they play together, they mesh and blend well...

Dominic Lash / Ricardo Tejero
Southville, Summer
Clamshell
2013

Studio-recorded in the Southville area of Bristol in August 2012 (hence the album title) Southville, Summer features Lash and Tejero as a duo, on seven tracks which are all tilted after street names in Bristol, where Lash is currently based. The album opens with the brief (two minute) "Comyn," a restrained, episodic exchange which acts as an hors d'oeuvre for what is to follow. Next up, at over thirteen minutes "Allfoxton" is a far more substantial piece, dominated by some exquisitely emotive wailing tenor sax that is solidly underpinned by Lash's fluid playing. In complete contrast but just as compelling, on "Fernleaze" each of the two is less melodic and more exploratory, producing "crunchy" textural sounds that persist throughout its seven minutes and effortlessly hold the attention.

On "Grittleton," Tejero switches to clarinet and returns to melody, sounding as if he is having great fun as he trades phrases with Lash. It seamlessly leads into the prolonged "Dongola," with no dramatic shift in mood or style—essentially the two tracks together are one extended piece, and a very engaging one. As it progresses, the exchanges become more drawn out and spare, creating a dramatic tension that is just electric. Simple but exquisite—an object lesson in duo improv. A fitting phrase to describe the entire album.

Dominic Lash Quartet
Opabinia
Babel
2013

On Opabinia, Lash and Tejero are joined by pianist Alexander Hawkins and drummer Javier Carmona in the Dominic Lash Quartet, which debuted in June 2012 and recorded this studio album in January 2013. As well as the link between the bassist and reedsman, there are other connections between the foursome's members. Lash and Hawkins are well known to each other as they play together in Barkingside, Convergence Quartet and the Alexander Hawkins Ensemble, being joined in the latter by Carmona. Lash, Tejero and Carmona have also gigged as a trio. Such experience together shows in their playing. They obviously feel safe and comfortable together.

It is not just the extra players that make the quartet different to the duo; nine of the album's ten tracks are Lash compositions, with the tenth being by Lash and Carmona. Rather than street names, some tracks (and the album itself) are titled after extinct creatures from the Middle Cambrian period—some contrast! Given the eclecticism of Lash's musical past, we should not have expected these compositions to be uniform or stylistically compatible; instead, they cover a broad spectrum, ranging from the subdued impressionism of "Lullaby of the Limpet (for Ella)" through the straightforward jazz riffing of "Halt the Busterman" to the final extended improvisation "Piano Part Two / Catachretic" which unfolds slowly but with its own unerring logic.

Taken together, the tracks certainly display the talents of the players collectively and individually. So, "Waiting for Javier / Luzern" showcases Tejero in two contrasting guises, firstly as a mellow, free-flowing jazz soloist, ably supported by Hawkins' piano, and then—after a typically finely-crafted solo from the pianist himself—as a fiery, rough-toned, wailer blowing hell-for-leather over Carmona's propulsive drumming; being so close, within one track, the transformation from one Tejero to the other is reminiscent of Dr. Jekyll becoming Mr. Hyde...

Based on this debut, the Dominic Lash Quartet deserves to be around for a long time; it is going to be fascinating to watch them and their music develop.


Tracks and Personnel

Southville, Summer

Tracks: Comyn; Allfoxton; Fernleaze; Grittleton; Dongola; Estoril; Bangrove.

Personnel: Dominic Lash: double bass; Ricardo Tejero: tenor saxophone, clarinet, whistles.

Opabinia

Tracks: Isthmus; Waiting for Javier / Luzern; Hallucigenia; Lullaby of the Limpet (for Ella); Azalpho; Halt the Busterman; Wiwaxia; Double File; Anomalocaris; Piano Part Two / Catachretic.

Personnel: Dominic Lash: contrabass; Alexander Hawkins: piano; Ricardo Tejero: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Javier Carmona: percussion.

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