Guitarist Alex Domschot's inspired interplanetary journey is evenly split between compelling originals and unique treatments of classics by John Coltrane, Jim Hall, Gary McFarland and Paul McCartney.
- Personnel, track listings and reviews
Personnel: Alex Domschot, guitar; Marc Johnson, bass (Andy Lalasis on track #3); Vic Stevens, drums; Warren Samples, cello.
"Sad Princess" / "Some Other Blues" / "Two's Blues" / "Gary's Theme" / "Coal Man (for Ornette)" / "Venusian Commute" / "Teachers" / "Fool On the Hill"
What the critics say:
"NY guitarist Alex Domschot appears again in the spotlight with his recent...original work of classic pop forms and jazz.
Domschot has the ability to do it all well...this musician can really spark the fire from his guitar.
Through all tracks, Domschot takes the listener in a musical journey starting from the lyrical ways of 'Sad Princess,' where the string cats...whisper the theme...'Gary’s Theme' reveals extraordinary Domschot soloing just as well as the orchestrated chamber string section holding onto him.
'Venusian Commute' opens softly with tones and solos of the individual idiosyncrasies of the players shining abroad, giving color schemes available to all listeners. Vic Stevens keeps us in awe along every track, but particularly on 'Teachers,' which is a masterpiece. Marc Johnson holds back on bass with wonderful work coming from the cymbals of Vic Stevens. Johnson is an innovator in the NY scene and has shared the stage with Stan Getz, Joe Lovano, and Jack DeJohnette.
The music carries great intensity and energy on Coltrane's 'Some Other Blues' and Jim Hall's 'Two’s Blues.' Domschot's arrangements are creative and filled with different intonations and attacks.
Venusian Commute is a wonderful accomplishment, gathering classic and jazz with original and lyrical sounds."
"Guitarist Alex Domschot's use of space, emphasis on slower mood pieces, and range of colors is at times reminiscent of Bill Frisell although in his own dryer voice. Bassist Marc Johnson is featured bowing throughout the lengthy opening atmospheric ballad 'Sad Princess' and 'Teachers.' Drummer Vic Stevens is mostly in a very supportive role behind Johnson and Domschot, who takes turns in the spotlight. There are occasional departures (especially John Coltrane's 'Some Other Blues' and 'Coal Man,' which is dedicated to Ornette Coleman), but most of the selections are taken at slow tempos or out-of-tempo altogether, with the emphasis on setting a mood rather than swinging...the musicianship cannot be faulted.
- Scott Yanow, All Music Guide
"...the Seattle native and current New York resident cuts a wide stylistic swatch on this ambitious outing. Bassist Marc Johnson provides some inspired interplay with drummer Vic Stevens on an Ornette Coleman tribute ('Coal Man'), which features an explosive, metallic-edged electric guitar solo by Domschot, and also on a swinging rendition of John Coltrane's 'Some Other Blues,' which has Domschot dipping into Scofield mode on his solo.
Johnson, whose deep-toned presence and impeccable time is felt profoundly throughout, delivers a dramatic bowed solo on the atmospheric, ECM-ish 'Teachers.' He also skillfully weaves beautiful contrapuntal lines around Domschot's guitar on the delicate Gary McFarland composition, 'Gary's Theme.' Great ideas and great chemistry."
"Guitarist Alex Domschot...has assembled a quiet and somewhat romantic set...
Much...occurs in soft focus, with the trio playing in a kind of charged haze.
The sound is gorgeous at times, as the players mostly find introspective grooves. Still, the experimental moments are pretty challenging. Domschot's tone is steely and oddly memorable."
- Philadelphia Inquirer
"An imaginative, worthwhile release, 'Venusian Commute' features a formidable trio in a variety of settings...
"...a mix of classics and originals by NY guitarist Alex Domschot that's more wide-ranging than spacey...Domschot initially adopts a deferential pose by showcasing Warren Samples' lyrical cello during the eleven-minute opener 'Sad Princess,' but generally shifts the focus to himself thereafter. Domschot makes a rare acoustic showing on the opener too, with his silken sound caressed by the lush backdrop of a chamber string orchestra and the understated support of (Marc) Johnson and drummer Vic Stevens...The trio literally burns through Jim Hall's 'Two's Blues' (Andy Lalasis occupying the bass chair) and the Ornette tribute 'Coal Man' (Domschot's sound at times simulating a guitar synth), and aggressively attacks Coltrane's 'Some Other Blues' with Domschot dropping fleet angular runs and a bluesy, biting twang that can't help but recall Scofield (whose influence also presides over the 'All Blues'-styled title piece). The album has its share of quieter, impressionistic moments too, with Domschot waxing reflectively throughout the delicate 'Gary's Theme' and Johnson bowing on the meditative 'Teachers'; the album even includes a samba-like treatment of The Beatles' 'Fool on the Hill' ...'Venusian Commute' is less intent on revolutionizing the form than with enhancing the jazz repertoire with quality sounds, a goal handsomely accomplished."
...Domschot's Wyndham Hill-esque acoustic guitar phrases are interwoven with evocative,
brooding string arrangements and spurred gently along by Stevens'
staccatoed cymbal rappings...the group settles into a more
straightforward jazz mode with brilliant covers of John Coltrane's 'Some Other
Blues' and Jim Hall's 'Two's Blues'...these two tracks in particular are brimming with
intuitive communication and creative energy. On 'Some Other Blues,' Johnson's
bass purrs like a motor driving the well-oiled machine, while 'Two's Blues'
finds Stevens in the limelight, setting a furious percussive pace. 'Coal
Man,' a tribute to Ornette, finally places Domschot's guitar theatrics on full
display, particularly during a electric (almost metallic) solo...That said, the song is shot full of ideas
connected in an angular and blistering format that more than upholds the spirit
of its namesake.
Sandwiching 'Coal Man' are two songs, 'Gary's Theme' (written by Gary
McFarland) and 'Venusian Commute,' which provide a softer dynamic to the
eclecticism at hand. The playing here is somewhat nebulous at times, almost
dreamlike...although the title track does have a pleasant, mid-tempo swing to it. This does little to prepare the listener
for the epiphany to come on the dramatic culmination of the album, 'Teachers.'
Johnson begins by eking out a melody over the back-lit, reverb-drenched guitar
chords before yielding to deeply etched, foreboding cello intonations. Along
with Johnson's eventual return to the proceedings, Stevens bursts forth to bash
the living tar out of his drum set, enhancing the dramatic effect of the piece.
It's little wonder that even after the comparatively low-key cover of the
Beatles' 'Fool on the Hill' (which features perhaps Domschot's most lyrical
playing therein) to close the album, 'Teachers' ends up registering as the most
memorable component of the disc once it has stopped spinning. Besides showcasing
first-rate musicianship all around, the strongest case for 'Venusian
Commute' can be made by this, the best example of Domschot's willingness to
take chances and not rein himself or his considerable breadth of musical
ideas in by adhering to a singular form."
- Signal to Noise / Textura.org
"...'Venusian Commute,' co-produced by drummer Vic Stevens, is at once a testimony to (Domschot's) exquisite musicianship and a statement of uncommon sensitivity in addressing contemporary jazz...I am reminded of the fluidity of Frank Gambale and the esoteric, electronic touch of Allan Holdsworth. Domschot’s use of a mini string section has a thoughtfulness and
elegance evocative of Claus Ogerman...
The CD opens with the very beautiful Domschot composition, 'Sad Princess,' a meditative piece featuring the cello of Warren Samples, nylon string guitar work by Domschot, and underpinned by Steven’s hypnotic ostinato cymbal. Bassist Marc Johnson intros the Coltrane composition, 'Some Other Blues.' Domschot plays the head and takes off on a free-wheeling duet with the drums. The trio wraps it up and to aptly quote the disembodied voice at the end of the cut, 'That one’s got some snarl in it.'
The inimitable Andy Lalasis guests on bass for a rarefied telling of Jim Hall’s composition, 'Two’s Blues.' Little concession is made here to commercialism. 'Gary’s Theme' (Gary McFarland) takes us back to a contemplative state before lightly floating into time. 'Coal Man' is dedicated to Ornette Colman and transitions effortlessly from ballad to swing and some virtuoso playing by the trio. Check out
Domschot’s burning, rock-like guitar work. A fine bass solo is turned in by Johnson.
The title cut, 'Venusian Commute,' is next and surprisingly turns out to be an interstellar mutation of the well-traveled Earth blues. No freeloaders allowed on this trip. Also penned by Domschot is 'Teachers,' which opens with ethereal guitar pads layered over lyric pizzicato bass lines by Johnson who then picks up the bow to very good effect. Some great drum stuff by Stevens.
...Kathy Ridl’s imaginative cover design is a real treat and for those of you with a desire to navigate your way around Venus, there is included a handy 'tube' map."
"...opens with 'Sad Princess,' an impressionistic tone
poem full of gentle lyricism in the tradition of past Metheny and Oregon,
amply aided by a small string section and Warren Samples' sumptuous guest
cello...'Gary's Theme' is better, with an atmospheric,
floating interplay that soothes the senses...
'Teachers,' an attractive original...features strong solos from bassist Marc Johnson and
drummer Vic Stevens, the latter who distinguishes himself by a display of
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