Draw by Four – Framework
(Jellymould JM-JJ029. CD Review by Peter Jones)
You could call Draw by Four an organ trio with added sax, but that description would not do justice to the band’s richly integrated sound. They are captained by South London saxophonist Jon Shenoy, and this sparky new album evokes both past and present, in keeping with all good jazz. Ignore the uninspiring title – it’s a sophisticated collection of melodic pieces, most of them written by Shenoy himself, sometimes in dazzlingly difficult time signatures.
Framework is full of musical nods and references, and the arrangements have been creatively thought through. Take their version of Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on my Shoulder), one of the most gorgeous tunes on the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. Although in this case it slightly outstays its welcome, it’s a good example of everything I’ve just mentioned. It may not be a new tune, but the choice is refreshing. After a sort of upsidedown cadenza from Hammond organist Will Bartlett, very free and wistful in keeping with the original, there’s a full statement of the intro melody from Shenoy’s tenor, after which Chris Draper sidles in with the brushes and guitarist Sam Dunn sketches in a few gentle fills. Draper and Dunn then lay out again for the second A section, after which the bridge tickles your ears with what sounds like a brace of harmonized flutes (although it’s more likely one flute plus the Hammond’s flute setting), whilst the guitar plays a beautiful counter-melody, leading back into the main theme over which Dunn now solos. It’s not flashy, but it is tasteful and well organized.
Shenoy is hip enough both to acknowledge the funk/groove tradition of the organ trio and to subvert it too, as in the labyrinthine Tomorrow’s Worriers (sic) which succeeds in maintaining its groove despite being in 11/8 (as far as I can tell). Pretty fiendish to solo over, but the band achieves it with little apparent effort. Dunn’s guitar is crunchy with sustain, and the tune stops on a dime. The sweet ballad My Horizonis a duo excursion for tenor and guitar, after which the intro to the impressionistic Breakers features wave sounds, guitar-generated seagulls and gently bobbing tom-toms.
The album closes with a couple of spirited swingers – Marriage is for Old Folks, a total obscurity by Leon Carr and Earl Shuman (who also penned Hey There Lonely Girl) and Arthur Schwartz’s You and the Night and the Music, the latter bookended with a newly-minted riff. It’s all good stuff, and dense enough to reward repeated plays.