3

Doctor Magnum: Live at Red Square

Jeff Dayton-Johnson By

Sign in to view read count
Doctor Magnum: Live at Red Square Pianist Robert Glasper, in the All About Jazz segment "One LP," talked about Slum Village's Fantastic, vol. 2 (Good Vibe, 1999), produced by J Dilla: "J Dilla is probably the only producer I know that changed the way musicians actually play their instruments." Exhibit A is Glasper's own piano playing with both his acoustic and electric groups.

Exhibit B could well be "Debbie Does Dilla (Waltz for Debby)," by the Albany, New York-based quartet Doctor Magnum. Glasper notes how Dilla's production "made people start playing in that hip hop way behind the beat—kind of sloppy hip hop way... you know what I mean." Doctor Magnum's drummer Rob Colpoys creditably provides exactly that sloppy hip hop beat, underlying pianist Bill Evans' canonical 3/4 tune. It's just one way in which the group's freely-downloadable two-disc Live at Red Square updates the repertoire and approach to small-band jazz.

Other hip hop references arise, most notably in a fine medley of Madvillain's "ALL CAPS" and Nas' "N.Y. State of Mind," which, in addition to being whimsically funny, also demonstrates that the Nas tune can be played as a kind of modal number. There are other covers—among them Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix (well, really, the Seeds, because it's "Hey Joe," but their take is pure Hendrix), and best of all, a magnificent version of Frank Ocean's smash 2012 hit "Thinkin' 'Bout You."

The instrumentation is classic rock 'n' roll—two lead guitars, electric bass, drums, and Doctor Magnum can call upon colorful rock 'n' roll effects, like the blast of psychedelia at the end of "Billie Jean," or the general resemblance to the Grateful Dead during some of the extended guitar solos ("Wormholes").

Nevertheless, this is not primarily a rock 'n' roll band. "Debbie Does Dilla" appears to be an important key to understanding what Doctor Magnum wants to be—a hip hop infused band whose members listen to each other the way the classic Evans trio did. And, you know, heard a slightly different way, those Jerry Garcia-like guitar solos unfold discursively the way a Dexter Gordon tenor saxophone solo might. Indeed, the Doctor Magnum songbook includes funky numbers ("Hello Stink," "Stanley") whose sinuous thematic lines are practically bebop.

Throughout Live at Red Square, Doctor Magnum marshals humor, chops and that "sloppy hip hop beat" to illustrate the enduring relevance and capacity for renewal of small-group interactive improvisation. And that is good news.

Track Listing: CD1: Thinkin' 'Bout You; Hello Stink; Billie Jean; Debby Does Dilla (Waltz for Debby); Upright; ¿Dónde está el retrete?. CD2: The Sign; Stanley; Hey Joe (Roberts); ALL CAPS/N.Y. State of Mind; Wormholes.

Personnel: J. Steele: guitar; Charlie Button: guitar; Boris: bass guitar; Rob Colpoys: drums.

Title: Live at Red Square | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Self Produced


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Second Act CD/LP/Track Review Second Act
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Imaga Mondo CD/LP/Track Review Imaga Mondo
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Port Of Call CD/LP/Track Review Port Of Call
by John Sharpe
Published: August 23, 2017
Read May I Introduce To You CD/LP/Track Review May I Introduce To You
by James Nadal
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Honey And Salt CD/LP/Track Review Honey And Salt
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 22, 2017
Read To the Bone CD/LP/Track Review To the Bone
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 22, 2017
Read "Storyteller" CD/LP/Track Review Storyteller
by Edward Blanco
Published: August 9, 2017
Read "Sooner And Later" CD/LP/Track Review Sooner And Later
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 4, 2017
Read "J.I.G.E.N" CD/LP/Track Review J.I.G.E.N
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 5, 2017
Read "Roots Of Unity" CD/LP/Track Review Roots Of Unity
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 25, 2017
Read "Tilt" CD/LP/Track Review Tilt
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 18, 2017
Read "Plays New Zealand" CD/LP/Track Review Plays New Zealand
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 21, 2016

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.