Friday, July 2, 2010
Lawnmower: Two Electric Guitars, Alto Sax, Drums Play the Unexpected
Drummer and Musical Sculptor Luther Gray apparently spent many hours of his formative life mowing lawns while listening to music on a walkman. It was a place and time where Gray heard a wide variety of styles reflecting his changing musical interests. With the CD West (Clean Feed 178) by his group Lawnmower he puts together an intriguing set that reflects the experience, filtered by the softening of the edges of musical memory with time.
It's Geoff Farina and Dan Little on on electric guitars, Jim Hobbs on alto sax, and of course Gray himself. This is music with a difference. The guitars use tremolo, feedback and drone blocks of sound to evoke an earlier era. Hobbs adds a distinctively sharp alto sax, and Gray plays a variety of drum roles, from quiet freedom to pulsation.
It's a kind of reflective free psychedelic raga jazz. Most importantly, it works as a most interesting and evocative musical event. It certainly references obliquely an earlier period (late '60s-early '70s) in contemporary music. It is very evolved, a sophisticated offshoot of the psychedelic freak outs some people made in their garages or at the end of the school dances back then. Only it's just much better than most if not virtually all of that.
In fact it is one of those great ideas musically. It's a great idea that comes off to near perfection. Don't expect hot licks. It's an ensemble effort. A group painting in sound color. It's rather daring. It's fully engaging. You get the point.