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Chris Washburne and the SYOTOS Band: Land of Nod

Dan McClenaghan By

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Call this jazz protest CD by trombonist Chris Washburne "Latin jazz with an attitude." The phrase "Land of Nod" originated with Jonathan Swift (Gulliver's Travels) in reference to a state of slumber. As a collective whole, the American public may have undergone a collective political nodding off, though recent elections seem to offer some solace—a critical thinking jolt of mind-clearing caffeine.

Sometimes you just take your inspiration where you find it. For Washburne, the State of the Union has incited a truculent blast on the opener, his original composition, "Pink," with a three-horn front line (trombone, trumpet and tenor sax) blowing hard, venting over a danceable Latin groove.

"Off-White" has deliberate momentum and a forceful trombone solo by the leader, which gives way to the red-coal smolder of Ole Mathisen's angry tenor sax sound. This tension, in turn, gets released by pianist Barry Olsen's light, dancing keyboard touch. "Blue Gust" has a more optimistic feel, a freewheeling, loose-jointed atmosphere; while "Oi Ne Khoy Hrytsin Tai na Vecharntsi," a traditional Ukranian folk song, eases in as a pretty ballad that—with a flick of the light switch—wails into a fiery up-tempo romp.

The Washburne-penned "Guantanamo," a highlight, opens with a Korean gong blast woven through with piano and blaring horns. Then it shifts into overdrive with an insistent bubble and pop rhythm designed to get you up and dancing. The title tune—in spite of the suggested sentiment—has an upbeat rhymic drive behind some inpsired free-range soloing.

Washburne and his SYOTOS band close the show with two different tunes entitled "Peace." The first, by Ornette Coleman, embraces some wild and wooly dissonance and features an adventuous solo by saxophonist Mathisen; the second, by Horace Silver, slows things down to a melancholy ballad, opening with Washburne's trombone and Mathisen's clarinet slow-dancing.

In the end, Land of Nod proves itself a an adventurous and fascinating Latin jazz listening experience.


Track Listing: Pink; Off-White; Blue Gust; Op-Ed; Oi Ne Khody Hrytsin Tai na Vechornysti; Guantanamo; Land of Nod; Peace; Peace.

Personnel: Chris Washburne: trombone, percussion; John Walsh: trumpet; Ole Mathisen: tenor saxophone, clarinet;Barry Olsen: piano; Leo Traversa: bass; Vince Cherico: drums; Chembo Corniel: congas. Special Guests: Bobby Sanabria: percussion; Malken Derno: Korean gong.

Title: Land of Nod | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Jazzheads

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