Picks and Pans Review: Barbeque Dog
Ronald Shannon Jackson and the Decoding Society
Aside from playing with notable jubilance, drummer Jackson, a former Ornette Coleman sideman, keeps advancing the cause of musical synthesis that is fueling much of the avant-garde right now. It's not hard to identify the jigsaw pieces of funk, jazz, rock, Oriental music, African rhythm and even country music that the Decoding Society fits together. The title cut, for instance, is a happy shambles, a countrified hoot and holler down a dusty road, as refreshing and daring as a skinny-dip in daylight, but with overtones of blues and boogie. What's intriguing is that these disparate elements form a coherent picture. Counterpoint is a key element. A long and Orientally elegant melody will float languidly above wheels of rhythm turning at twice the speed. Or Jackson's drums will tattoo a quizzical melodic line, played in unison by the horns, while an electric guitar buzzes around the lumbering mass like a gnat. Bizarre configurations and juxtapositions abound in Jackson's music, but they are far from purposeless. In their way, they depict primal dramas and apocalyptic visions.
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