By Alexa Peters | Published July 2020
On Dinosaur’s first two recordings, the quartet drew on the melodic idiosyncrasies of North African microtonalism and Celtic folk music, as well as the rhythms of American, Scottish and North African drumming, all while emphasizing a plethora of curious, almost-machine-like synth effects and sounds. Both achieved an artful, yet somewhat obvious, sort of modernism, steeped in technology and intersectionality. To The Earth approaches modernism differently, leaning more into the acoustic simplicity of chamber music and stripping itself bare of electronic effects. In this configuration, the ensemble finds a fresh palette to express its ideas: the metallic ring of strummed piano strings, guttural trumpet noises, shakers and other tinny percussive instruments. The acoustic emphasis also primes Dinosaur to explore overlap among the compositional techniques of trumpeter Laura Jurd’s favorites: jazz greats like Charles Mingus and Duke Ellington, and classical heroes like Igor Stravinsky.
On “Held By Water” a boisterous jazz improvisation from Jurd floats above rich Stravinsky-like piano chords. Similarly, on “Banning Street Blues,” the bandleader transitions between a jutting, staccato melody in the brass recalling Stravinsky’s percussive Ebony Concerto, and groove in the bass, drums and the prominent piano ostinato that suggests a new version of The Headhunters’ “Watermelon Man.” In this way, Jurd frequently oscillates back and forth between seemingly disparate musical perspectives, underscoring curious parallels between eras, composers and melodies that expand the definition of what modern jazz is and can be.
To The Earth: To The Earth; Slow Loris; Mosking; Held By Water; Absinthe; Banning Street Blues; For One. (41:18)
Personnel: Laura Jurd, trumpet, flugelhorn, tenor horn; Elliot Galvin, piano, synthesizer; Conor Chaplin, bass; Corrie Dick, drums.