Dinosaur at The Sugar Club, 21 February 2017
Laura Jurd has a real talent for composition and Dinosaur is a really exciting group to witness. They groove hard together and there is an easy chemistry between the four musicians. Parallels are inevitably drawn between Jurd and Miles Davis – trumpeters, confident band leaders, composers, embracing electronic instruments. Jurd’s command of the instrument is unquestionable, her tone is wonderful across the whole range. I was reminded of a Duke Ellington quote: “as a result of a certain musician applied to a certain instrument, you get a definite tonal character”.
The second half of the concert opened with a melodic trumpet and drums duet. The musical language of the piece – a solo instrumental line with rhythmic accompaniment – was very much in the folk tradition. Having overcome a ‘trumpet malfunction’ in the middle (a valve became blocked, strangling the sound until she cleared it after a few attempts), Jurd joked afterwards that it was just as well they were playing improvised music and it hadn’t happened in the “23rd bar of the Haydn trumpet concerto”! Her demeanour on stage is so relaxed and assured, and she dealt with the problem with a wry smile.
The next composition, Extinct, followed straight on, trumpet and drums being joined by keyboard and bass for a very funky contrast. Elliot Galvin’s organ solo was a highlight, an exploration of tonal variations on the drawbars and delightfully inventive. Galvin was using a Nord Stage as his main keyboard, augmented at some points by an Arturia Microbrute, both of which he manipulated expertly, searching inside the sounds whenever possible to find something new.
Corrie Dick’s opening drum solo to Primordial continued the spirit of exploration as he seemingly extracted every sound possible from his kit. His cymbal set up was interesting – lovely dark-sounding hi-hats, a riveted crash (giving it an extra ‘sizzle’ effect) and a smaller cymbal overlaid on the ride cymbal, giving it a denser, less resonant sound. His use of different sticks and brushes throughout the evening allowed for much variation.
Tonight the group finish out their set with Interlude, the final track from last year’s Edition Records release, ‘Together, As One’. On the album this track is quite contained, but Dinosaur present an extended treatment, Conor Chaplin’s progressively deeper bass guitar quarter notes providing a foundation for the others to scurry around. Jurd’s chorale-like melody at times floats serenely above the crackling energy. Chaplin lets loose some very tasty playing in the piece’s climactic jam section.
A joyful samba encore sends us off home, the odd souvenir LP under the odd arm. The group tour around Ireland this week supported by Music Network: Sligo, Castlebar, Letterkenny, Tinahely, Dún Laoghaire, Clifden, and Cork.