This is the second disc I’ve reviewed by Dawn Thomson, a guitarist/vocalist from Canada who relocated to New York City about six years ago, and I could probably stop right here and repeat the other one verbatim. In other words, not much has changed. She is still, as we pointed out then, “a capable mainstream guitarist in the Wes Montgomery/Kenny Burrell tradition” who presumably aspires to be a singer as well. The problem was, and is, that Thomson’s voice “is nothing to write home about — a wavering soprano reminiscent of some of the Latin Americans . . . who have come north in recent years to captivate American audiences — but lacking the requisite charm or personality.” On top of which, she doesn’t always nail every note squarely on the head. Happily, Thomson keeps the voice largely in check this time around, singing only on the Jerome Moross/John LaTouche gem, “Lazy Afternoon,” and one of her seven compositions, “My Only Home.” Thomson’s guitar playing is something else again, and the session works best when she’s cheerfully grooving with the quartet (Hays, Weiss, Wolleson), which, we are pleased to report, is the case on six of the ten selections. Trumpeter Allmond, who appears on “Happenstance,” “My Only Home” and “Twos and Threes,” is a respectable player but he could have stayed home and not been greatly missed. The quartet is securely welded, and Thomson provides a number of engaging riffs on which to frolic (especially “Zigzag,” “Hicksville,” “Open to the View” and the easygoing ballad “Remembering Dreams”). Her mellow guitar is pleasing to the ear, her solos consistently graceful and cogent (the first half of “Lazy Afternoon” is quite entrancing). As we wrote about Thomson’s earlier release ( The Best Things in Life, Jazz Inspiration 9305), “. . .she’d be better served by playing and writing more and singing less.” Thomson does sing less this time around (two songs instead of half a dozen) and as a result, this is a much more entertaining and persuasive date. The quartet tracks alone are enough to earn an endorsement.
Track listing: Happenstance; Lazy Afternoon; Zigzag; All the Things You Are; Hicksville; Remembering Dreams; Open to the View; My Only Home; Twos and Threes (54:18).
Dawn Thomson, guitar, vocals; Kevin Hays, piano; Peck Allmond, trumpet, flugelhorn; Doug Weiss, bass; Kenny Wolleson, drums.
Contact: NY Jam Records, 567 10th St., Brooklyn, NY 11215; www.nyjam.com
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
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