Bright Dog Red ‘Somethin’ Comes Along’ CD (Ropeadope) 5/5

‘Somethin’ Comes Along’ is the new double-disc album from the improv jazz outfit, Bright Dog Red, who can now boast their third album as part of Ropeadope Records.

Founded by drummer, Joe Pignato – a one-time student of the revered multi-instrumentalist, Yusef Lateef, and now a State University Professor in his own right – the Albany, New York, collective comprises of students who participated in extensive Pignato-led jam sessions over the years. A custom bestowed upon Pignato from those days under the tutelage of Lateef who was a renowned music improviser and was always committed to “changing the colours of the musical canvas”, as he once said. And that’s very much proved to be something of a mantra when it comes to the music of Bright Dog Red.

With their debut album, ‘Means To the Ends’ (Ropeadope Records, 2018), serving as a fascinating introduction to the band’s incomparable concoction of improvised jazz boldly mixed with elements of hip-hop and electronica, their follow-up record, ‘How’s By You?’, would come as soon as the following year. While Bright Dog Red’s debut masterfully dabbled within these different genres and styles, ‘How’s By You?’ incredibly seemed to plunge the band deeper within its own creation of psychedelic electronica but still managed to see them soar under these even more extreme conditions.

‘Somethin’ Comes Along’ sees Bright Dog Red revisit the rulebook once again for a two-disc album showcasing some stunning compositions brought to life by a line-up comprising of Pignato on drums, saxophonists Mike LaBombard and Eric Person, guitarist Tyreek Jackson, bassist Anthony Berman, rapper Matt Coonan and Cody Davies responsible for the electronic wizardry. With strong standouts on each of the two discs – ‘Somethin’ (disc #1) and ‘Something Else’ (disc #2) – the music runs a joyous gamut of music now synonymous with the BDR brand. While songs like the album’s title track ‘Somethin’ Comes Along’ and ‘Colors’ capture the band’s fervent energy, numbers like ‘Soft Hand’ showcase their ability within a more traditional New York, noir jazz aesthetic which, paired with Coonan’s freestyled verses, places you on those late night New York streets.

To outline the details and intricacies of Bright Dog Red’s music is a little like spoiling the ending of a great book. It’s best appreciated by listeners who like to have their conceptions of contemporary jazz challenged and who are willing to put those headphones on and bravely head off on that unrivalled adventure.

In 2019, Ropeadope Records boss, Louis Marks, sent out a tweet stating “When I was a kid and wanted to explore jazz I knew if I picked up a record with the Blue Note label it would be good. After 13 years at Ropeadope, I can safely say the same is true for this brand.” And he’s absolutely right. This year alone has seen some fantastic Ropeadope releases from N’Sawa-Saraca (‘Another Town’), Spirit Fingers (‘Peace’), Lakecia Benjamin (‘Pursuance: The Coltranes’) and the upcoming album from Christian Scott (‘AXIOM’). The continual efforts of Bright Dog Red, however, continue to challenge and inspire and are indicative of Marks’ vision for Ropeadope’s future.

Imran Mirza