5

Dojo: Road Trip

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
Dojo: Road Trip 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).

Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Self Produced | Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "La vie commence ici" CD/LP/Track Review La vie commence ici
by Tyran Grillo
Published: April 20, 2016
Read "The Magical Forest" CD/LP/Track Review The Magical Forest
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 6, 2016
Read "Enter the PlusTet" CD/LP/Track Review Enter the PlusTet
by Troy Collins
Published: October 23, 2016
Read "King of the Blues" CD/LP/Track Review King of the Blues
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 27, 2016
Read "Los Guachos V" CD/LP/Track Review Los Guachos V
by Budd Kopman
Published: July 1, 2016
Read "Wash My Horse In Champagne" CD/LP/Track Review Wash My Horse In Champagne
by James Nadal
Published: July 15, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!