1. 4 Wheel Drive
2. The Blues Walked Out
3. Sweet Dreams
4. Mae's Song
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
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.