Music review: "Dreamers"

CorrespondentOctober 26, 2013 

Triangle guitarist Scott Sawyer scores with eclectic new album, “Dreamers.“

  • Jazz Scott Sawyer Dreamers

An eclectic collection

At last ... an album that captures the eclecticism of Triangle jazz guitarist Scott Sawyer. While “Dreamers” (on Sawyer’s Doll label) offers plenty of jazz, it also includes country, blues, folk and rock – all palatable to jazz fans who dig diverse musical connections with integrity. Moreover, Sawyer’s thoughtful improvising here has precedents in the work of genre-bending guitarists such as Bill Frisell and John Scofield.

“Booshki” and “Dreamer,” the first two tracks, introduce tenor saxophonist Dave Finucane, bassist Ron Brendle and drummer Brian Sullivan, with vocalist Kate McGarry added on the second title. “Booshki,” an angular melody in a medium tempo groove, offers a carefully constructed Sawyer solo and finds Finucane in a more thrashing mood, reminiscent of the late tenor man Joe Henderson. “Dreamer” is mysterious, dark and oblique at times, with McGarry’s wordless vocal akin to a second horn. The singer also appears on Nick Drake’s atmospheric, folksy “River Man” and Bob Dylan’s bluesy “Not Dark Yet.” You notice how Sawyer takes his time soloing on these performances, using bent notes and contemplative phrases. On “Dakota,” Sawyer delicately backs Bruce Piephoff reciting an imagistic poem.

On “How Deep Is the Ocean” drummer Bobby Cohen replaces Sullivan for a quartet performance that ranges in and out of avant garde jazz with collective improvisation at times. On “Tony Speaks,” Tony Williamson on mandolin joins Sawyer for a quirky, Thelonious Monk-like performance. Throughout this album, you’ll find that Sawyer is a superb self-editor and an inspiring leader. He knows what he wants to say ensemble-wise and solo-wise. There is no indecision, and the performances benefit immensely from his precision and concision.

Correspondent Owen Cordle

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