Jonathan Sampson – Various recordings
Jonathan Sampson has been behind a handful of diversely engaging recordings. Under the pseudonym, jdsampson, his dense collection of instrumentals are not only complex but they’re textured in a way that allows each instrument to be heard separately. This may come from the fact that Sampson plays all the instruments in every song on “more Shoddy Prototypes.”
The tracks on this album have such depth that it’s difficult to believe that Sampson is the only performer, mostly because of the occasional solos that showcase impeccable musicianship throughout each song. “Tilting/Strobe Time” is accessible enough to carry listeners through the rest of the album, using the coercive power of what seems to be an army of saxophones over an urgent beat.
The epic 11-minute, “In The Shadows” is a menacing testament to Sampson’s ability to orchestrate beautifully extended tracks without losing any spark. “Stitchy 2011″ follows suit by adding a slinky horns section, which shows Sampson’s capabilities beyond structurally simple percussion and wandering basslines. For those not inclined to experimental jazz opuses, Sampson is also part of Sleepy3, a three-piece instrumental outfit who just released a more tender track entitled, “Babydoll”. Sampson is accompanied by Ben Wildenhaus on electric piano and Andy Piper on drums but it sounds distinguishable from his solo work. Their combined efforts seems more relaxed, giving each note more room to resonate and simmer. While this is their only release, Sleepy3 is less combative than Sampson on his own, even though his presence is obvious as it takes form through a relentlessly exhibitionistic saxophone performance.
Though jazz enthusiasts will be drawn to these recordings, Bar Tabac’s “Somnolencia” should also be explored in order to understand Sampson’s live performance. This live recording stems from a 2005 concert at the Pickford Theater, and features Sampson on guitar and trombone. Though other musicians are accredited to the recording, Sampson is noted as the author of the song. “Somnolencia” is an accordion-heavy dirge that combines the thickness of Sampson’s more recent work with quieter accord. After a few moments, the music quality is so great that there seems to be no discernible difference between the live and studio recordings.
Even though Sampson has cultivated a particular method to writing music, he does it well and proves time and time again that his talents are both impressive and moving.
Self released For more, visit jdsampson.bandcamp.com