14

The North: Slow Down (This Isn't the Mainland)

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
The North: Slow Down (This Isn't the Mainland) When French pianist Romain Collin and Hawaii natives double bassist Shawn Conley and drummer Abe Lagrimas, Jr. got together in Honolulu there was no special agenda; just three friends playing a few gigs in a relaxed environment, far from the hurly burly of their adopted cities of Los Angeles and New York. However, a trio chemistry was born and shortly afterwards a three-week writing/recording session in an idyllic location ensued. As the title suggests, the music is pretty laid back. That said, the seven originals and tunes by Chick Corea, Thelonious Monk and singer-songwriters Bob Dylan and Christina Courtin boast a stylish sophistication that underscores the sunny, feel-good vibe.

Pretty, lilting melodies and light, shuffling grooves are the order of the day. Lagrimas, Jr employs brushes in the main and Conley's use of space is as notable as his rich, earthy bass lines. Collin, who's made a name for himself following acclaimed solo recordings The Rise and Fall of Pipokhun (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2009) and The Calling (Palmetto Records, 2012), may stand out as the main protagonist, but this is far from a chops fest; very much a collective statement, the trio's emphasis is on tuneful interplay.

Contrasts in pace characterize Collin's "Great Ocean Road," from the skittering brushes, sparse bass pulse and soft piano musings of the intro to the epic climax. In the middle, Collin unfurls a solo that grows from lyrical stirrings to powerful elegy. The pianist's simmering "Slow Down" is delightfully seductive, with his slowly winding, bluesy melody buoyed by less-is-more bass and Lagrimas, Jr's brushwork that combines metronomic beat and shaker-like pulse.

Corea's "Humpty Dumpty" is taken at the original's sprightly tempo, with Conley's sawing arco giving way to fast-walking bass. The trio really loosens up here, with Collin's flowing improvisation followed by short back-and-forth exchanges between bass and drums. More original is Monk's "Light Blue," which, once past the famous melody, shifts between slow blues and fast skipping tempos; Conley takes a fine solo but it's Lagrimas, Jr's playful rhythms and jittery accents that stand out. Melodically, "Blowin' in the Wind" is a little too faithful to Dylan's original to get the juices flowing.

More satisfying is the balladic, gospel-tinged interpretation of the versatile Courtin's "Join Us Jackson." Here, and on his original composition "Dowsett Avenue," Collin's playing is nicely understated, conceding protagonism to the tunes' melodies over any shows of virtuosity. Similarly, the pianist's "Northern Dreams," which revolves around a slow, eight-note piano motif, rumbling mallets and sighing cymbal is all about mood. Conley chips in with two contrasting compositions; the melodically appealing, rhythmically engaging "Yann's Flight" with its undeniably Latin heart, and the lovely solo piano piece "Stay With Me," which closes the set on a tender, meditative note.

The pristine recording quality enhances a relaxed, lyrical session that's as much the product of place as it is a meeting of musical personalities. The North—a first in Franco-Hawaiian jazz—has created a unique trio sound whose quality and sincerity shines through. It's the perfect soundtrack for balmy summer evenings, wherever they fall.

Track Listing: Great Ocean Road; Slow Down; Humpty Down; Join Us Jackson; Dowsett Avenue; Light Blue; Yann’s Flight; Blowin’ in the Wind; Northern Dreams; Stay With Me.

Personnel: Romain Collin: piano; Shawn Conley: double bass; Abe Lagrimas, Jr: drums.

Title: Slow Down (This Isn't the Mainland) | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Dowsett Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read BACHanalia CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Hallways CD/LP/Track Review Hallways
by Paul Rauch
Published: June 24, 2017
Read The Crave CD/LP/Track Review The Crave
by John Sharpe
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub) CD/LP/Track Review Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub)
by Joe Gatto
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Kickin' Child - The Lost Album 1965 CD/LP/Track Review Kickin' Child - The Lost Album 1965
by Doug Collette
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Towards Language CD/LP/Track Review Towards Language
by John Eyles
Published: June 23, 2017
Read "Lovers" CD/LP/Track Review Lovers
by Jerome Wilson
Published: September 20, 2016
Read "Rags And Roots" CD/LP/Track Review Rags And Roots
by James Nadal
Published: April 25, 2017
Read "Moving Still" CD/LP/Track Review Moving Still
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 5, 2016
Read "Countdown" CD/LP/Track Review Countdown
by Doug Collette
Published: September 17, 2016
Read "Chasing Shadows" CD/LP/Track Review Chasing Shadows
by Eyal Hareuveni
Published: July 8, 2016
Read "Taking Direction" CD/LP/Track Review Taking Direction
by Marithe Van der Aa
Published: April 4, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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