Tales from the Land of Lawson: Intriguing Rainy Day Improvisation
Earlier this year, enterprising Seattle label Table and Chairs put out an intriguingly hard-to-categorize rainy-day album titled Tales from the Land of Lawson. It’s suite of sorts, streaming at Bandcamp, that begins with an eleven-minute tone poem with shifting, rising and falling sheets of sound from both horns and synthesizers and ends with a rather snide, thinly disguised cover of a Paul Williams song (yeah – that guy from the 70s, you know, Three Dog Night and Hollywood Squares if you go back that far). The band is a bunch of Bay Area improvisers led by alto saxophonist Jacob Zimmerman along with Michael Coleman, Dan VanHassel and Dan Good on synthesizers, Matt Ingalls on clarinets, Matt Nelson and Drew Ceccato on tenor sax, Gary Wright on baritone sax and Rob Ewing on trombone.
They follow the atmospheric introduction with Rain Shadow, a simple, moody electric piano melody fleshed out with a chamber arrangement that grows to a pulsing, loopy hook. The theme continues with a steady march, then builds to a scherzo with endless exchanges of voices from the reeds before finally reprising the march theme. Then they wind it down to the introductory theme, this time rising and falling, the austere march reaching toward a blustery coda and then ebbing again as the timbres and voices mingle kaleidoscopically and then recede: it’s absolutely entrancing. The understated sarcasm of the closing cut makes for a wry return to reality. The promo copy that arrived here is hand-lettered number 8 out of a modest pressing of a hundred: hopefully more are on the way or have already arrived, because for anyone who digs entertaining improvisation, this is worth a spin.
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