Reeds player Jon Shenoy releases Salinas Song, the second album from his quartet Draw By Four, in time for Christmas. It’s on sale from 16 December and the launch party is at Kansas Smitty’s on 22 December. Jon told Peter Bacon all about it for LondonJazz News:
LondonJazz News: Tell us about the new album.
Jon Shenoy: Salinas Song is the second album from my quartet, Draw By Four. It mostly comprises of material I wrote after returning from a long road trip along the pacific west coast of the United States in the months which lead up to the birth of my daughter. A tribute to the West Coast jazz school it is not. It continues in the same trend as our debut Framework (2018); with rumbling Hammond bass line hooks played in counterpoint with tricksy saxophone and guitar melodies.
LJN: So, not very “West Coast” then…
JS: It’s big and direct; the antithesis of the West Coast approach – more a musical statement of the power and flexibility of the modern Hammond organ quartet and an opportunity for me to show off the breadth of my compositional technique while maintaining a catchy, lyrical approach to the contemporary jazz aesthetic.
LJN: And who is Salina?
JS: The album’s title track is named simultaneously in tribute to both my daughter, Salina Rae, and to the river which runs through the Salinas Valley in California, flowing out to Monterey Bay where my road trip began. Salinas Song was the last composition I wrote for the album, starting out as a lullaby but turning into a lion’s roar of pride upon experiencing life through the emotional prism of fatherhood. There’s a certain nod to American cultural influences: Salinas is the birthplace of my favourite author John Steinbeck and the setting for a few of his novels including East Of Eden. Also, another of my favourite authors gets a shout-out in the track Kilgore Trout, written by guitarist Sam Dunn, this time honouring the perennially unsuccessful alter-ego of Kurt Vonnegut with an angular bossa nova that’s very enjoyable to play.
LJN: Who else is in the band?
JS: Sam is joined by my long-time pianistic collaborator Will Bartlett playing Hammond B3 organ and drummer Chris Draper (we’re joined by Dave Ingamells for the album launch on drums). We played together so much during our monumental 2017 tour and some brilliant gigs last year that by the time I put this music in front of the band members they instantly knew what I was after. Even extended tracks like Sickert Tales and Pedal Power which contain a considerable amount of written material that span different movements still sound cohesive to me, and that’s really down to these musicians who’ve learnt to interpret my compositional signature over the last few years, playing the tunes with a rare group insight and sensitivity but always delivering when it’s time to showcase their individual talents.
LJN: Which reeds do you play on the album?
JS: I decided to play soprano as well as tenor saxophone on this recording, it’s an instrument I have great respect for and absolutely adore playing as you can hopefully hear on the Goldings Trio-inspired Whiskey & Wry. There were a few compositions that required a textural lift to bring the melodies out of the frequency range of the guitar and Hammond and the soprano sax does just that.
As on the first album, I chose to put a few woodwind overdubs on certain tracks; Estuary Boogie and Kilgore Trout have their melodies doubled on flute and alto flute respectively which instantly transformed them (I’ve been a long time fan of Gareth Lockrane’s Grooveyard) and any opportunity to play my bass clarinet in unison with Will Bartlett’s Hammond baselines was seized upon, bringing new life to a Brecker-inspired tune called Estuary Boogie, one of the first tunes I ever wrote for this set-up.