Dinosaur: To The Earth

Chris May BY

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Dinosaur: To The Earth
Britain's Edition label has remained independent of London's post-2015 alternative jazz scene, whose aesthetic is formed in part by the emphases of identity politics and which now, in 2020, has gone overground with the signing of three bands led by movement auteur Shabaka Hutchings to Impulse! in the US. Edition, which was founded in 2008 by pianist Dave Stapleton and photographer Tim Dickeson, has preferred to pursue its own path. It has done so with magnificent style. (The label made one important connection with the alt scene in 2017 when it released The Late Trane, the chef d'oeuvre to date of scene godfather Denys Baptiste, leading a band which included the godfather of godfathers, Gary Crosby).

In spring 2020 Edition has released two albums of surpassing quality. The first, in April, was guitarist Rob Luft's second album, Life Is The Dancer. The second, in May, is To The Earth, Dinosaur's third album. Like Luft's album, To The Earth is practically perfect in every respect, from the material (six originals, one cover), through the performances and on to the production and mix.

Dinosaur is led by trumpeter and composer Laura Jurd, who formed it with three fellow Trinity Laban conservatoire students as the Laura Jurd Quartet in 2010. Since then the name has changed but the lineup has stayed constant: keyboard player Elliot Galvin, bassist Conor Chaplin and drummer Corrie Dick. While the band's earlier albums were plugged-in affairs using plenty of through-composition, To The Earth has a deep acoustic vibe and is simpler in structure, its seven beautifully-crafted melodies conceived as vehicles for improvisation. Five of the tunes are Jurd originals, a sixth was written collectively, and the seventh is a cover of Billy Strayhorn's "Absinthe."

The clearest influence on Jurd's playing is Miles Davis. But she is in no sense derivative, blending the best of Davis—heightened lyricism, embracing tone— with her own signatures, notably including a delight in low-register smears and growls which hark back to musicians such as Bubber Miley and Cootie Williams. The essence of these Duke Ellingtonians is winningly channelled on "Absinthe," which was recorded by Ellington on Afro-Bossa (Reprise, 1963). Another trace from history is that of Thelonious Monk, whose harmolodic touch is evident in Jurd's "Slow Loris" theme.

Simultaneously intimate and expansive, sometimes edgy but mostly playful, To The Earth is a lovely and absorbing album which, like most of the best jazz, combines knowledge of the tradition with the breaking of new ground.

Track Listing

To The Earth; Slow Loris; Mosking; Held By Water; Absinthe; Banning Street Blues; For One.


Laura Jurd: trumpet; Elliot Galvin: keyboards; Conor Chaplin: bass, acoustic; Corrie Dick: drums.

Album information

Title: To The Earth | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Edition Records

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