Lawnmower — Lawnmower II
Location: New Orleans, LA
Album release: May 2014
Record Label: Clean Feed (CF298)
1. Good Beat 8:01
2. Jumping off the Bridge 5:56
3. Space Goat 12:18
4. Cartoon 2:04
5. Walk in the Park 6:26
6. Tiny Wings 8:46
7. Ashed 7:40
δ•≈ Luther Gray: drums;
δ•≈ Jim Hobbs: alto saxophone;
δ•≈ Kaethe Hostetter: 5 string violin;
δ•≈ Winston Braman: electric bass.
♣ Here is the second, and very much awaited, take of Luther Grays project Lawnmower. With a change of direction inside the same jazz–blues–folk–rock configuration, now the quartet includes violin (Kaethe Hostetter) and electric bass (Winston Braman) instead of two guitars. The saxophonist is Jim Hobbs again without him, you wouldn t have the distinct Lawnmower sound. The avant side of the group is still directing all the developments, profiting from Gray s and Hobbs parallel or past works with luminaries like Anthony Braxton, Joe McPhee, Ken Vandermark, Sabir Mateen, Jenny Toomey and Tsunami (the first), Bill Lowe, Jon Voight, Laurence Cook, Curtis Hasselbring (the second), Taylor Ho Bynum, Timo Shanko and Joe Morris (both). The two new additions open this perspective in multiple ways. Coming from the Debo Band and the Zena Bel Band, with experiences in classical music (Boston Philharmonic, New England Philharmonic), structured improvisation (with Fred Frith, for instance) and traditional African music (a permanence in Ethiopia changed her life), Hostetter adds color and multi — directionality to the Lawnmower agenda. Active in the alternative rock field, as a member of the bands Consonant, Fuzzy and Shepherdess, Braman does it also, contributing to the formulation of a deep rooted and sophisticated pop/jazz in which equation the pop part isn t synonym of silliness. Check out how fresh, and surprising, and seductive, are the results.
By TROY COLLINS, Published: May 26, 2014 | SCORE: ****
δ•≈ Drummer Luther Gray described in the liner notes to West, Lawnmower's 2010 Clean Feed debut, that the record was an attempt to reconcile the various genres he'd worked in throughout his career — an all–inclusive approach that could be traced back to the stylistically diverse music he listened to on a Walkman while mowing lawns in his youth. Lawnmower II, the quartet's sophomore effort, reinforces Gray's initial inspiration, conjuring aural impressions of the lazy, hazy days of summer.
δ•≈ The new album features some surprising personnel changes; Gray and expressive alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs remain as the sole original members, whose shared experiences include working with Taylor Ho Bynum, Joe Morris and Timo Shanko. The indie rock–pedigreed guitarists Geoff Farina and Dan Littleton have been replaced however, by classically–trained violinist Kaethe Hostetter and pop–savvy electric bassist Winston Braman, who reveal a nuanced, collaborative rapport.
δ•≈ Like West, which traversed the panoramic expanses of Americana, this session exudes a similarly cohesive ambience. Assertive detours, like "Cartoon" and "Tiny Wings," are exceptions, although even the latter's skittering rhythms are offset by languid glissandos from Hobbs and Hostetter. The program's prevailing mood is one of probing, groove–laden introspection; "Good Beat" channels mid–tempo Afrobeat, while "Walk In The Park" subtly references a strolling blues, but it's the twelve minute "Space Goat" that best illustrates the date's charms. Anchored by a hypnotic ostinato and Gray's loping backbeat, Hostetter's wah-wah laced violin weaves psychedelic variations in harmony with Hobbs' vocalized alto refrains, while Braman's fuzz–toned bass provides an electrifying undercurrent.
δ•≈ Despite the change in lineup, the group continues to evince the same sort of rich conversational interplay that defined the ensemble's first album, imbuing Lawnmower II with an adventurous sensibility that transcends the limitations of genre or style. :: http://www.allaboutjazz.com/
Jim Hobbs: http://www.allmusic.com/artist/jim-hobbs-mn0000598507/credits
Luther Gray: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIsq4YvbGh8
δ•≈ Drummer Luther Gray was born March 10, 1972 in New Orleans, LA. His family moved to Washington, D.C. where, as a teenager, he started playing drums in punk rock bands. Though largely self–taught, his musical training involved drum lessons from Kim Martin, Larry Bright, Steve Bagby, and Mickey Newman. In 1995 he graduated the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Music, after which he taught privately and performed in the Washington , D.C. area with, among others, Butch Warren, Cecil Payne, Webster Young, Tsunami, Jenny Toomey, Bob Butta, and Buck Hill. Upon moving to Boston in 2000 he resumed teaching private drum lessons and has played with Joe Morris, Anthony Braxton, Jay Hoggard, Joe McPhee, Cameron Brown, Allan Chase, Joseph Daly, Sabir Mateen, Roy Campbell, Ida, Geoff Farina, Andrew White, Rob Brown, Bill Lowe, Taylor Ho Bynum, Raqib Hassan, Bill Pierce, Mitch Seidman, Steve Swell, Joe Beck, Fred Anderson, Ken Vandermark and many others. Luther has performed in festivals and concerts across the country and abroad. δ•≈ He has recorded for the Simple Machines, Hat Hut, Riti Rec, Skycap, Clean Feed, Xeng, Atavistic, and Jardis labels, among others. In addition to his performing schedule Luther teaches art and music at an after–school program for elementary school children.