LEFT RIGHT LEFT
Trump’s election has had one positive outcome. The despair felt by LA drummer Tina Raymond prompted her to record her first album as leader, its title referring to the US political landscape: left-leaning on either coast; the right entrenched in the middle. Raymond, veteran pianist Art Lande and bassist Putter Smith have made convincing improvising vehicles of material by such champions of progressivism as Woody Guthrie, Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez. To prove she wasn’t out to knife her country in the back she has also included songs enshrined in US patriotism, such as a startling Battle Hymn of The Republic, complete with parade-ground drumming that unravels without losing its martial quality.
Lande finds something fascinating to say on them all, being one of the rare pianists to fully intertwine impressionism and a more sinewy swing, while Smith brings a chunky sound and flair for lyricism. Raymond shows sophisticated instincts for when to fully unleash her crisp, energised playing into the music’s foreground, and when to retreat to near invisibility, as on Guthrie’s timeless Union Maid.