Friday, May 25, 2018

Ronald Shannon Jackson & The Decoding Society - 1983 - Barbeque Dog

Ronald Shannon Jackson & The Decoding Society
Barbeque Dog

01. Barbeque Dog 4:21
02. Trials of an Honest John 3:24
03. Yugo Boy 3:10
04. Say What You Will 3:15
05. Mystery at Dawn 4:38
06. Gossip 5:48
07. When Cherry Trees Bloom in Winter, You Can Smell Last Summer 5:29
08. Harlem Opera 9:02

Encoded March 1983 at Jam Recording, London, England. Decoded April 1983 at Electric Lady Studios, NYC.

Zane Massey – Alto, Soprano and Tenor Saxophones, Percussion, Voice
Henry Scott – Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Percussion, Voice 
Vernon Reid – Guitars, Guitar Synthesizer, Steel Guitar, Banjo, Percussion, Voice, Coins 
Melvin Gibbs – Electric Bass, Electric Piccolo Bass, Percussion, Voice
Reverend Bruce Johnson – Fretless Electric Bass, Percussion, Voice
Ronald Shannon Jackson – Drums, Flute and Bass Flute, Voice, Bertoia Sound Sculpture

A follow-up to the highly successful (artistically) Mandance, Barbecue Dog doesn't quite reach the explosive heights of its predecessor, but is arguably the next best item in Jackson's discography. The band strikes a comfortable balance between the horns and the electric instruments, allowing each to surface when needed, and also compliments the required barnburners with more contemplative pieces. Thus, for every "Trial of an Honest John" where the sky threatens to cave in, there's a lovely, serene number like "Mystery at Dawn," with the leader switching to flutes and often incendiary guitarist Vernon Reid (pre-Living Colour) plucking a delicate banjo solo. As worthwhile as the better numbers here are, however, the bulk of the compositions begin to settle into something of a rut, if not necessarily a bad one. The listener begins to hear a certain standardization of material that would become more apparent in subsequent releases. Still, there's much to enjoy here, including Henry Scott's dazzling trumpet work, the unreservedly funky dual bass playing of the Reverend Bruce Johnson and Melvin Gibbs, and, of course, the leader's own roiling, brink-of-chaos drumming. Barbecue Dog is possibly the last Decoding Society recording that can be recommended with few reservations.