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Dawn Thomson: Happenstance

Jack Bowers By

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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).


Title: Happenstance | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: N. Y. Jam

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