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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Tomchess & The Lovedogs - In The Beautiful Future (Foot Jumbo Records, 2007) ***

World jazz is often, like unfortunately very often in fusion music, an arrogant endeavour to connect different styles that do not really have anything in common. That is not the case on this CD by Tomchess & The Lovedogs (which can be ordered via CD Baby or downloaded trough iTunes), and which brings a mix of Arabian music, jazz (and ambient). Tom Chess plays ney, oud, reeds, guitar, djembe, and he has enriched his knowledge of these instruments in Africa and Asia. On this double album he is accompanied by Shane Shanahan and Ravi Padmanabha on percussion, Nathan Peck on bass and Alicia Rau on trumpet, all four strong musicians with a broad experience in both jazz and world music. The angle of attack for the album is world music, literally, because Tom Chess brings several of the pieces first solo on oud or ney, and the following song brings the same but with the whole band. And the musicians are good, something to be enjoyed in the long improvizations, and that is the best distinction between this band and many unsuccessful attempts by other bands. The overall feeling is one of world music, and even the street noises of voices that are thrown into the mix as background act functionally. This is pretenseless, respectful, nice world jazz, refreshing, tasty and lightly digestible like a bowl of fresh salad.