Jon Shenoy’s Draw By Four
(Pizza Express, 1st May 2017. Review by Charlie Anderson)
After performing around the UK since January this year, Jon Shenoy’s Draw By Four continued their Arts Council-funded tour at Pizza Express before heading off to Scotland. Taking inspiration from British paintings, The Framework Tour includes a specially written Framework Suite of compositions that are essentially soundscapes inspired by the imagery of paintings by JMW Turner, Winifred Knights and Gill Holloway.
But before the suite, the band played some of Shenoy’s other original material, starting with the New Orleans-inspired Nite Trip, which gave guitarist Sam Dunn the chance to take an inspired solo using the range of his jazz guitar, from soft lows to high register phrases that were developed as his solo progressed. Drummer Chris Draper similarly drew a wide range of timbres from his kit and used them judiciously.
The Beach Boys’ tune Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder) was transformed into a slow, beautiful jazz ballad, which demonstrated Shenoy’s warm tone and delicate lyricism.
The group sounded best when performing the art-inspired soundscapes, and using the traditional organ quartet, created some interesting sound worlds that pulled the listener in and took them to another place. Compositionally, Shenoy has created pieces that enable the listener to hear the paintings and visualise them. On much of the tour, the images of the paintings have been projected on screens so that the audience can see them, but although unable to at Pizza Express, by not projecting them Shenoy has unwittingly left it to the audience’s imagination. And by allowing the audience to imagine the painting from the sounds, this creates an all together new experience that enables the careful listener to envision the painting from the music.
The original compositions in the second set found the band on more familiar territory with some of Shenoy’s older tunes such as Passing Clouds, with its repeated sax riff that was then passed around the different instruments, and the similar sounding Tomorrow’s Worriers, though the tunes were separated by a beautiful rendition of Ellington’s Sophisticated Lady, played in dedication to Ella Fitzgerald.
Shenoy was always engaged in the music throughout the evening, often playing interludes and backing riffs behind solos and listening to what the other players had to say. Similarly the other members of the band engaged in melodic and rhythmic interplay that enhanced an already impressive group dynamic.
With an album due out later this year, the Framework project will be worth repeated listening to hear a lot of the subtleties and details within the compositions.
Jon Shenoy, saxophone; Will Bartlett, organ; Sam Dunn, guitar; Chris Draper, drums.