5

Dojo: Road Trip

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
Fusion—long a dirty word in jazz circles—has enjoyed a renaissance in the last decade. In part it's due to the advocacy of lables such as Abstract Logix but the root cause is surely the fact that cross-pollination is increasingly the norm. And whilst fusion mightn't mean quite the same thing it did in the 1970s, these days there's a healthy to-heck-with-it environment whereby jazz, rock, funk and progressive rock can all co-exist in exciting hybrid forms. Dojo is a case in point. It's fourth release since 2004 leans more towards the beat-heavy, melodic end of the jazz-rock spectrum, with enough anthemic riffs and ecstatic shredding to satisfy aficionados of metal and modern prog alike.

Like most rock-based music, Road Trip fares best with the volume cranked up, particularly when guitarist Brian Baggett launches into one of his adrenaline-charged Jeff Beck—meets—Allan Holdsworth solos that liberally pepper the set. That over-simplification obscures the fact that there's some depth to Bagget's compositions and a range of textures.

Electric bass duties are shared between Jeff Harshbarger and Chris Handley, who lay down funk-heavy bottom ends, ply melodious unison lines with Baggett and in general forge a propulsive, groove-based unit with drummer Luke Stone. Both are melodic players, and Harshbarger's solos on the up-tempo "Last Week" and "Big One" and the more pop-centric "Pointe of View" highlight his lyricism.

Though Baggett deals in riffs and spectacular solos on pretty much every track he also mixes it up, employing loops and layered guitar lines on "Baytowne Wharf," which concludes with a darting Spanish flourish of gusto and precision on acoustic guitar. The guitarist employs left and right channels on "Big One," firing off melodic lines in typically jazzy call-and- response mode. There's nice variation in tempo too, from the metalish rush of "Dojo Finger Pickin'" to the more languid "In Times like This," underpinned by composer Handley's delightfully mellow bass. On the latter a programmed beat and deft electronics combine with Baggett's light touch to conjure a significant mood swing in the context of the album as a whole.

"Grand BLVD" moves from a steady, melodic opening groove to epic rock spectacular and then hushed lyricism in the space of a couple of minutes. "Wish I Was There" and "Wrong Way Jam/The Oasis" bristle with energy and are vehicles for Baggett's chops-busting virtuosity. The laid back trio groove of "Summer" frames one last scintillating hurrah from Baggett, with Stone stretching out on the final strait. Whether rocking out, taking off in arching solos or following a mellower course, Baggett's fulcrum—and that of the trio—is undeniably melodic.

Road Trip should appeal to more than just guitar aficionados. Dojo's brand of punchy, melodic music whilst certainly visceral, is also sophisticated enough to reward fans of progressive rock, modern fusion and those who just appreciate good instrumental music.

Track Listing: Last Week; Baytowne Wharf; Big One; Scenic 98; Dojo Finger Pickin’; Pointe of View; Grand BLVD; In Times Like This; Wish I Was There; Wrong Way Jam/The Oasis; Summer.

Personnel: Brian Baggett: guitars; Luke Stone: drums; Chris Handley: electric bass (2, 4, 8, 10); Jeff Harshbarger: electric bass (1, 3, 5-7, 11).

Title: Road Trip | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Self Produced


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn CD/LP/Track Review Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 18, 2017
Read The Princess CD/LP/Track Review The Princess
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Queen City Blues CD/LP/Track Review Queen City Blues
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Latin Lover CD/LP/Track Review Latin Lover
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Reclamation CD/LP/Track Review Reclamation
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Provenance CD/LP/Track Review Provenance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 17, 2017
Read "Undertaker Please Drive Slow" CD/LP/Track Review Undertaker Please Drive Slow
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 15, 2017
Read "Up and Coming" CD/LP/Track Review Up and Coming
by John Kelman
Published: January 6, 2017
Read "The AV Club" CD/LP/Track Review The AV Club
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 18, 2017
Read "Onward" CD/LP/Track Review Onward
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 2, 2017
Read "Live From Jazz at the Bistro" CD/LP/Track Review Live From Jazz at the Bistro
by Geannine Reid
Published: May 15, 2017
Read "Popofoni" CD/LP/Track Review Popofoni
by Duncan Heining
Published: May 3, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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

Please support out sponsor