424

Jamie Saft: Trouble: The Jamie Saft Trio Plays Bob Dylan

Kurt Gottschalk By

Sign in to view read count
Jamie Saft: Trouble: The Jamie Saft Trio Plays Bob Dylan It's a story almost as old as rock itself: Bob Dylan, the pop poet laureate, can't sing or play guitar, but he sure can write lyrics. Never mind that he was one of the most evocative vocalists of the '60s, who could turn a phrase as brilliantly well with his mouth as he could his pen. History shows otherwise—it takes Joan Baez or the Byrds to make his songs into something, popular wisdom holds, and his talent lies off-mic.

Recent focus on Dylan the musical composer, then, is something of a surprise. The trio Jewels and Binoculars have been doing instrumental interpretations of Dylan since their first album in 2000. Now keyboardist Jamie Saft tries on a similar tack with a set of Dylan instrumentals played by his trio of bassist Greg Cohen and drummer Ben Perowsky.

Both groups tend to shy away from the iconic tracks, but Saft seems almost hell-bent on obscurity. There's only one song from the '60s, "Ballad of a Thin Man from Highway 61 Revisited, arguably the only classic album represented here as well. Two others come from great but less remembered '70s albums—"Living the Blues from 1970's Self Portrait and "Dirge from Planet Waves, released in 1974. The song selection seems something like a mix tape, made by an insistent obsessive out to prove that Dylan still matters.

Which of course is true. Dylan doesn't make bad records, just lesser ones. But whatever Saft's intention, culling primarily from later years sets a tone for the disc—or perhaps erases the tone set by the concept. Using lesser known material and without a soloist out front, the record escapes its subject matter and ends up being a pretty good piano jazz disc. On the few tracks where Saft switches to organ, Al Kooper's inspiration almost eclipses Dylan's.

Saft adds vocalists for two tracks, bringing the disc more obviously in Dylan's ring but not adding much to the overall project. Mike Patton gives "Ballad of a Thin Man an interesting, cartoon-ominous quality, but ultimately shows by negative example how good an interpreter of his own words Dylan is. Antony captures the strange quality, at once nasal and throaty, that the songwriter takes on when in country blues mode, but still (and admittedly it's a tall order) doesn't add to the original.

If Trouble is less than exciting as a Dylan tribute, however, it's still a great record, following the formula that makes great records great: talented musicians playing with passion. Although he has only rarely embraced it, Bob Dylan was born Jewish and at times has been observant. Perhaps another Great Jewish Music tribute is in the mix, one that would tickle more the reinterpreting of his songbook. But here, at least, is a loving homage.


Track Listing: What Was it You Wanted; Ballad of a Thin Man; Dignity; God Knows; Trouble; Dirge; Living the Blues; Disease of Conceit.

Personnel: Greg Cohen: bass; Ben Perowsky: drums; Jamie Saft: piano, Hammond organ; Mike Patton: vocals; Antony: vocals.

Title: Trouble: The Jamie Saft Trio Plays Bob Dylan | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Tzadik


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Second Act CD/LP/Track Review Second Act
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Imaga Mondo CD/LP/Track Review Imaga Mondo
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Port Of Call CD/LP/Track Review Port Of Call
by John Sharpe
Published: August 23, 2017
Read May I Introduce To You CD/LP/Track Review May I Introduce To You
by James Nadal
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Honey And Salt CD/LP/Track Review Honey And Salt
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 22, 2017
Read To the Bone CD/LP/Track Review To the Bone
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 22, 2017
Read "Green With Envy" CD/LP/Track Review Green With Envy
by James Nadal
Published: March 28, 2017
Read "Jaco Pastorius" CD/LP/Track Review Jaco Pastorius
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: October 17, 2016
Read "Sedimental You" CD/LP/Track Review Sedimental You
by John Sharpe
Published: March 30, 2017
Read "O Horizonte" CD/LP/Track Review O Horizonte
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 8, 2016
Read "Translator's Note" CD/LP/Track Review Translator's Note
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 28, 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

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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