Portland Guitar Society Newsletter December 2013

CD Review: TRIO by John Dodge

by Peter Zisa

TRIO, John Dodge’s newly released recording, has a little something for everyone: rock, blues, swing jazz tunes, folk-rock, even a tender father-daughter swing “The Newlyweds” ballad (a song John wrote for his daughter’s September wedding to Sean Vinson, the trio’s bassist). The album’s name stems from the recording’s three primary instruments: guitar, bass, and drums, It also is John’s third studio release CD.

Unlike John’s previous CD, Greetings from Bridgetown, this album is potpourri of story-telling songs with four additional instrumentals. John’s remarkable guitar work is nicely matched by his stylistic and expressive vocals. His compositional style is disciplined and creatively crafted with the use of alternative chord voicing and syncopated melodic lines against the driving rhythm of the percussion. Perhaps the most notable numbers are John’s instrumental tributes to Tommy Emmanuel (“The Wild Australian”), with whom John studied in 2012, and Dave Brubeck (“What Five is This”). The Brubeck tribute transforms the Renaissance standard “Greensleeves” into a jamming “Take Five” swing interpretation with the addition of wild Gypsy jazz improvisation of Béla Balogh (of Three-Leg Torso) reminiscent of the great Stephane Grappelli. While the principal cast members of the CD are John (guitar and vocals), Sean (bass), and Kyle Owens (drums), the album includes an assortment of notable cameo appearances by notable performing artists for dramatic and stylistic reasons. With the help of Farnell Newton on trumpet, Al Torres on trombone, Mieke Bruggeman on both clarinet and alto sax, an authentic big band sound is nicely achieved. David Jacobs-Strain superbly recreates ambience of a John Lee “Bottleneck” Hooker as well as Billy Gibbons of ZZ top.

Listeners who love variety—blues, jazz, rock, as well as sentimental and fun-loving story-telling songs—will find John Dodge’s TRIO a completely enjoyable listening experience.