6

Dinosaur: Together, As One

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
The debut album of the newly baptized Dinosaur—but the second album of the group formerly known as the Laura Jurd Quartet, following Landing Ground (Chaos Collective, 2012)—sees composer Jurd inspired by Miles Davis's late 1960s/early 1970s electric period. Though Jurd's trumpet, Elliot Galvin's Fender Rhodes/Hammond soundscapes and the persistent grooves plied by Conor Chaplin and Corrie Dick broadly invoke Davis' brooding electric canvases, the quartet eschews Davis' percussion-heavy, trance-like jams in favour of a leaner, more direct and more tuneful approach, which at its best, is pretty intoxicating.

The changing of the band's name and the album title are strong indicators of the quartet's equilibrium. For sure, as founder, composer and producer, Jurd is the driving force, and her potent trumpet playing a key feature of the music; yet Dinosaur is very much the sum of its parts. From the opening motif of the atmospheric "Awakening"—a twenty first century offspring of "In a Silent Way"—Fender Rhodes is inseparable from trumpet on the catchy heads, while Galvin's structured chord progressions, underlying drones and intermittent psychedelic dabs and spacey swirls color the music greatly.

Though Chaplin and Dick provide the group's motor, keyboards and trumpet routinely reinforce the rhythmic thrust of Jurd's compositions. Chaplin's electric bass anchors the quartet with quiet, pervasive authority, alternating seductively between flexible groove and insistent pulse. By way of contrast, Dick's greater stylistic freedom brings an unpredictable edge to through-composed material that, whilst firmly rooted in the broad jazz tradition, reflects Jurd's fluency in contemporary classical and folkloric idioms. A little of all these ingredients come together on "Robin," where the jaunty, quintessentially English intro precedes an alluring Jurd solo that suavely blurs the lines between classical élan and jazz bravura.

Tumultuous drum patterns, mantra-like bass signals and spacey keyboards underpin Jurd's melodic intro to the stormy "Living, Breathing." The trumpeter soon slips the tether, unleashing a beautifully measured improvisation that's equal parts reason and passion. There are a couple of short, linking pieces: the psychedelic distortion of Galvin's Rhodes dominates "Underdog," a Sun Ra-esque escapade underpinned by Chaplin and Dick's steady-grooving propulsion, and where Jurd's muted trumpet is a ghostly subtext; sombre, church-like Hammond, skittish drum patterns and grand piano chords define the vignette "Steadily Falling."

In the main, however, Dinosaur roars when sinking its teeth into meatier fare. The infectious, slow grooves of "Extinct" steer the quartet, while in the mid-section contrast and tension is fuelled between Galvin's dark Hammond waves and Jurd's more melodically defined lines, plus her inclination to embrace space. The roles are reversed in the tail, as Jurd takes one of her most extended, and compelling, solos of the set.

The punchy "Primordial" seems to pick up where "Extinct" left off, as though Jurd had some unfinished business. When Jurd sits out, bass, drums and keyboards elope in unbridled freedom like sprinters, fiercely focused in different lanes yet heading towards the same goal. As the finishing line approaches Jurd returns, and the quartet, in slow motion, bunches up, trumpet and keys breaking the tape in a photo finish. The three-minute "Interlude" brings the quartet back down gently to earth, though even in this atmospheric vignette, there's plenty to capture the ear.

Jurd's accomplished writing matched with vibrant collective play makes for a potent, highly satisfying brew. The quartet has been around for seven years but this could be the record to launch it internationally. Miles, you feel, would almost certainly approve.

Track Listing: Awakening; Robin; Living, Breathing; Underdog; Steadily Sinking; Extinct; Primordial; Interlude.

Personnel: Laura Jurd: trumpet, synthesizer; Elliot Galvin: Fender Rhodes, Hammond organ; Conor Chaplin: electric bass; Corrie Dick: drums.

Title: Together, As One | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Edition Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Whispers on the Wind CD/LP/Track Review Whispers on the Wind
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman CD/LP/Track Review Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Heptagon CD/LP/Track Review Heptagon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 23, 2017
Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read "Meditations on Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review Meditations on Freedom
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 11, 2017
Read "Slade Alive!" CD/LP/Track Review Slade Alive!
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 21, 2017
Read "Port Bou" CD/LP/Track Review Port Bou
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 15, 2017
Read "The Big Wig" CD/LP/Track Review The Big Wig
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 24, 2017
Read "Before The Silence" CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "The Catfish" CD/LP/Track Review The Catfish
by Chris Mosey
Published: February 15, 2017

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY IT!  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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