Dear Dorothy: The Oz Sessions

COMPOSERS: Chad Lawson Trio
LABELS: Summit
PERFORMER: Chad Lawson Trio
CATALOGUE NO: DCD 330

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Mosaic Records was launched in 1983 as the first company devoted exclusively to reissuing jazz recordings in limited-edition boxed sets. Each usually encompassed a specific body of work, such as Thelonious Monk’s complete Blue Note output, Duke Ellingtonrecordings for Capitol, Dean Benedetti’s private Charlie Parker stash and so forth.

The firm celebrates its 20th anniversary by inaugurating Mosaic Select, a series of two- and three-disc collections that focus on significant yet relatively neglected work by a broad range of jazz luminaries.

Pianist Chad Lawson’s relatively mainstream retooling of Harold Arlen’s songs from The Wizard of Oz (with a couple of originals thrown in for good measure) surprises in different ways.

I especially enjoyed Lawson’s introspective, slow-motion treatment of ‘The Jitterbug’ and bluesy (if not quite down and dirty) crawl through ‘The Lollypop Guild’. Few could stretch blues and popular standards out to such slow and hypnotic effect as ray charles. He could also take the worst material and internalise it with unbearable urgency.

Sadly, Thanks for Bringing Love Around Again relegates Charles to a figurehead position, as producer Billy Osborne parades down the overproduced runway with arrangements cut from slick, faceless, synthesised funk that cannot disguise his limited songwriting abilities.

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Let’s not even discuss the vapid, cliché-ridden lyrics. Enjoy the opening track, a techno-facelift of Charles’s signature ‘What I’d Say’, and ignore the rest.