The photo of the Moscow/Pullman highway which graces the cover of the Dozier-Jarvis-Young Quartet’s debut CD release, You Guys From Around Here? brought the memories flooding back, as I settled down to listen to the opening track, “Homecoming.” You see, I’m able to easily answer that particular query, since I was from “around there” for a little over eight years. In one of the group’s earlier incarnations—the Dozier-Jarvis-Jensen Quartet—I performed regularly at Roger Johnson’s venerable Pullman music establishment, Rico’s, and at clubs and concert halls throughout the Pacific Northwest.
My objectivity as a reviewer having now been fully compromised, let us forge ahead with a well-deserved tribute to a group that has been making great music on the Palouse for over two decades.
Keyboardist Dody Dozier, with her husband, Dick, on bass and good friend, Dave Jarvis—percussion instructor at WSU—on drums, form a rhythm section that has swung, rocked, samba-ed (Is that a word?) and funked (If that’s a word, it’s a dangerous one!) its way through a repertoire that is the very definition of “eclectic.” Try to imagine the world’s largest iPod library on a continuous “shuffle songs” cycle, and you get the picture. The trio decided to tempt fate by inviting a saxophonist into their inner circle—charter member Rich Shanklin, followed by yours truly, and ultimately WSU jazz professor Horace Alexander Young—and the group has been a quartet ever since.
You Guys From Around Here? faithfully captures the kaleidoscopic blend of styles that the quartet has built its reputation upon in live performances throughout the Palouse region. Several of the selections—”Homecoming,” “Pipes of Pandora,” “On Green Dolphin Street,” “The Heather on the Hill”—have been in the group’s book for a number of years. I’ve always been particularly fond of Dody’s beautiful and innovative rendition of “Heather” (from the musical, Brigadoon), which calls to mind some of the best work from the groundbreaking fusion group, Weather Report. Horace Alexander Young brings a new dimension to the quartet with his swinging, soulful vocalizing on Bobby Timmon’s “Dat Dere” and the Duke Ellington classic “I’m Beginning to See the Light.” The quartet’s penchant for Latin music—Afro-Cuban, Bossa Nova, Salsa, etc.—can be heard on “Estamos Ai” and Dave Jarvis’s original composition, “Samba for the Children.”
The act of juggling so many divergent styles in one program has obviously become a very natural thing for the Dozier-Jarvis-Young Quartet. The flow from one track to the next attests to the ease with which the group is able to weave its syncretic blend of music into a cohesive whole. Every performance by the quartet is sure to contain something for everybody, and let’s hope for the sake of the folks living in the Moscow/Pullman area these guys stay around there.