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02/08/13

Scott Robinson Doctette
Bronze Nemesis
Doc-Tone

If Charlie Haden’s Quartet West is jazz-noir, Bronze Nemesis is pulp-jazz. Scott Robinson’s protean and flexible group delivers 12 tracks celebrating proto-superhero Doc Savage, a figure who dominated hundreds of pulp novels in the Depression and war years. The music covers the ominous “Man of Bronze,” the easy swing of “Fortress of Solitude” (Doc’s hideaway presaged Superman’s), the sophisticated, scientifically based intervals of the clangorous “The Metal Master,” and “Weird Valley,” an eerie slice of lounge lizardry sparked by Robinson’s mezzo-soprano saxophone and Randy Sandke’s tart, muted trumpet. Robinson and his players set deceptively simple solos within complicated harmonies, creating a dynamic that excels in the unexpected.

Bristling with oddball sonics (instruments include theremin, “boing box” and wind machine), the cinematic Nemesis is a beautifully packaged jazz album that doesn’t capsize under the weight of its theme. Instead of being pretentious, it entertains, much like its inspiration did so many years ago.

Originally published in January/February 2013
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