In Lloyd Peterson’s new book, Music and the Creative Spirit, drummer Joey Baron says, “There are so many chops out there and so little music.” It is a sentiment that recurs in the book’s 40 interviews. As Maria Schneider says in this tome, “I hear jazz all of the time where I’ll think, that’s interesting, but it does absolutely nothing to me.” Dodo 3 made me remember such statements.
Whether music “does something to you” may be even more subjective than most critical criteria. Toru Dodo is an undeniably facile, clever pianist. Tunes like “R or B” and “Bolivia” are challenging exercises in complex rhythmic and harmonic assembly that Dodo and his trio (with bassist Joseph Lepore and drummer Rodney Green) execute with admirable precision. On “NYUCS,” Dodo’s homage to the NYC subway, the samples of a conductor announcing stops are cute. There is even some lyricism among the athleticism in pieces like “A Spiral Escalator” and “Arabesque.”
I find it almost impossible to care very much about these successful examples of self-imposed problem solving that sound like they emanate so much more from the head than from the heart.