REVIEW: Laura Jurd's Dinosaur - Together, As One

Dinosaur - Together, As One
(Edition Records EDN1078. Review by John L. Walters)

Laura Jurd – still in her mid-20s – is already on her third album. Both Human Spirit (2015) and her 2012 debut Landing Ground foregrounded Jurd’s ambitious compositions, drawing on a repertory company of young musicians. Together, As One presents a unified front from Jurd’s regular working quartet, now called Dinosaur.

The Dinosaur sound and feel is perhaps best represented by the first track Awakening. This has a superb asymmetric (5/8) pulse out of which Jurd’s trumpet floats across echoplexed synthesizer washes before a fragile theme emerges from the sonic haze. Not an unusual way to begin a jazz fusion track, but Dinosaur make it feel authentic and fresh. After the long intro Conor Chaplin’s bass installs a long 5/4 riff into the piece followed by plangent electric piano by Elliot Galvin. This was not the only time during this album that I was reminded of Ian Carr’s Nucleus and Herbie Hancock’s ‘Mwandishi’ band (featuring Eddie Henderson), but that’s more because of mood and style than compositional and improvisational content.

Dinosaur’s music sounds young and defiantly European – there’s a hint of Acoustic Ladyland – and its best moments stick in the mind with an easy grace. The nine-and-a-half-minute Extinct has a cunning groove that emerges slowly from the primordial audio swirl of its intro. A plainly stated middle section theme changes the mood for a while before the Sly-like groove returns for the remainder of the song.

Primordial has a hammering, antsy fanfare that morphs into a triple-time lope for an eloquent solo by Jurd. I liked Galvin’s keyboard sounds best when they were idiomatic (electric piano, Rose Stone-like organ in Extinct) or heading for outer space (the twangling synths and electronic washes of Interlude). In Corrie Dick, Jurd has the empathetic, endlessly inventive drummer that every jazz composer dreams of, and occasionally deserves. Bassist Chaplin is a star. There’s a close empathy (which is not always reflected in the mix).

Although it may win awards, Together, As One doesn’t come across as a self-consciously ‘award winning album’: the production is understated, the performances are straightforwardly good and no-one is trying too hard to impress, which makes it all the more impressive.

2015 Interview with Laura Jurd about Human Spirit
Podcast interview from 2012 about Landing Ground
Our first sighting of the dinosaur in 2012
Review of the 2011 Dankworth prizewinners concert with Laura Jurd's La Selva

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