The George Dulin Quartet "Where's Johnny?"

The George Dulin Quartet
"Where's Johnny?"
CD Baby

CD review by Roger-Z (06/08/12)

Jazz and classical music share so much in common. Both started out as the improvisational dance music of their day. Both utilized charts with very little notation. As a matter of fact, we don't know very much about the earliest classical music because so little of each piece was written down and recording technology did not exist. In a switch, modern classical music has no room for improvisation and contemporary jazz contains many non-improvisational parts.

And so it goes with "Where's Johnny?" by The George Dulin Quartet featuring Sal Rosselli. On this jazz album, the tunes contain so many different themes and tempos that they sound like classical overtures. These seriously complex and speedy riffs require an extraordinary amount of talent to execute. The band meets the challenge "head" on. The quartet consists of Sal Rosselli (tenor, soprano sax), George Dulin (piano), Danny Zanker (bass), and Yutaka Uchida (drums). George Dulin composed most of the songs.

The tracks that grab me the most contain the simplest, catchiest melodies. "Don't Wanna Pickup," written by Jose Dulin, starts off with a Zappaesque blues riff and then morphs into swing. These two parts rotate a number of times until the tune dissolves into a rhythmless, cacophonous passage. Next comes a bass solo. And at some point, the band drifts into something sounding like "LaBamba!" Holy cow! Now that's a mash up. "Janacek Theme," penned by Leos Janacek, starts off reminiscent of a Weather Report ballad. The beat remains subdued for the first few minutes until it breaks into an up-tempo, flamenco cadence. At this point, the band tackles some very serious, unison arpeggios. In "I Thought It Was a Costume Ball," the group begins with a minuet but quickly shifts into off-tempo, discordant lines. This back and forth continues for the rest of the tune. Finally, the melancholy "The Loneliest Days Are Yet to Come" closes the album. And it actually sticks to one tempo and theme!

What a well played record! The rhythm section of Zanker and Uchida provide a sensitive launching pad for the soloists. They only grab the spotlight when it shines on them. George Dulin proves himself the master of both classical and jazz keyboards. Sal Rosselli both growls and purrs according to the dictates of each passage.

The level of musicianship on this record blows my mind. Take the fastest and heaviest metal music. These guys play faster and heavier. Take the smoothest jazz. They play sweeter. So if your brain seeks complex stimulation, just ask, "Where's Johnny?"

2012 Roger-Z