CD Reviews

MusicWeb International

Webmaster: Len Mullenger

[ Jazz index ] [Nostalgia index]  [ Classical MusicWeb ] [ Gerard Hoffnung ]

Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove


Alien Left Hand

Fireball FMJP 10002



1. 4 Wheel Drive
2. The Blues Walked Out
3. Sweet Dreams
4. Mae's Song
5. Dominatrix
6. NY Cab Ride
5. Some Other Time
8. Alien Left Hand Syndrome

Janette Mason - Piano, organ
Dudley Phillips - Bass
Josh Giunta - Drums
Lea DeLaria - Vocals
Julian Siegel - Tenor sax
Tom Arthurs - Trumpet
Martin Shaw - Trumpet, flugelhorn
Tracy Holloway - Tenor and bass trombone

Keyboardist Janette Mason made quite a stir with her debut album, Din and Tonic, although the bits I heard on the radio sounded more like din than a tonic. Her new CD suggests that she likes to play around with time signatures but also that she seems hooked on repetitive vamps. Janette composed six of the eight tracks here and several of them suffer from clunking repetition as well as the lack of a clear melody. The opening 4 Wheel Drive is a dislocated piece which Janette says in the sleeve-notes was "originally conceived as Study in F minor" and it starts with a hammering riff which can get on your nerves. Janette also notes that the tune contains "many twists and turns" - indeed, it never quite settles down.

The Blues Walked Out starts in a similar fashion, with another ostinato repeated by the piano and then taken up by the bass. Janette calls it a blues but I can't spot the blues connection, as it is generally too bitty. Annie Lennox's hit Sweet Dreams is almost swamped by vamps but at least a tune is discernible - and this is a very attractive melody, mostly delivered by Dudley Phillips' double bass, with Julian Siegel improvising elegantly on tenor sax. But  the reiterated piano-and-bass figure towards the end threatens to drive the tune into the ground.

Mae's Song (dedicated to Janette's mother) shows Mason in more lyrical, questing mood. Dominatrix brings us back into riff mode, with a repeated motif which barely qualifies as a melody. NY Cab Ride has more of a tune - a beboppish theme which provides a good basis for sax, trumpet, piano and drum solos, with vocalist Lea DeLaria scatting along.

The Leonard Bernstein song Some Other Time gives Janette a chance to display her meditative side in a thoughtful piano solo. Finally, Alien Left Hand Syndrome has the pianist's left hand going berserk, like a demented boogie-woogie player, but Julian Siegel's saxophone slows things down to a more accessible level.

Despite the praise heaped on Janette Mason for her first album, I can't entirely share some reviewers' enthusiasm.

Tony Augarde



Error processing SSI file

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: