Hammond organ, drums, guitar, tenor sax; a punter could be forgiven for thinking they knew what to expect with that line-up. Draw by Four, playing mostly original material by leader Jon Shenoy, gave the classic formula a distinctly contemporary twist with artfully crafted compositions, patiently developed ear tweaking melodic and rhythmic hooks and some expansive blowing and interplay from the band.
They revved up with a couple of looseners. A burner, with a title that sounded like Kinky D, had a clattering, even quavered groove from Chris Draper on drums and gave everyone a chance to stretch out, Shenoy and Sam Dunn on guitar locked in unison for an attention grabbing, rhythmic theme. The Beach Boys’ Don’t Talk followed, Will Bartlett using the organ to provide textures and atmosphere and Shenoy’s warm, with just the right dose of tension tenor sound, more than doing Brian Wilson’s classic justice. Then a suite of Shenoy originals conjured a different vibe. Lost Clouds had a dreamy melodic line, with contrasting rythmic hooks and a quietly snappy groove. A trio of pieces inspired by paintings had more complex arrangements; variations in tempo and layering of rhythms, juxtaposing melodies and riffs, spaces for interplay between duos, tempos and themes crafted to conjure images and emotions. Colonsay Harbour was a standout moment of the whole gig (and the polar opposite of a stereotypical hammond organ vibe). A free-ish interplay between sax and guitar, with colour and texture provided by drums and organs, gave way to a sparse, meditative and fluting melody, Dunn’s guitar almost implying fills. A time stood still moment. They closed the set with Deluge and plenty of bustle and fire. Hand in Hand had a another attractive melody with more counter-posing riffs and appealing harmonic shifts. Bartlett let fly a lovely. fluid, lyrical, piano on the organ solo. A ‘see we can do it’ rendition of Marriage is for Old Folks had all the bluesey swagger and groove expected of an organ quartet and closed a scintillating gig.
The writing and arranging for this band had a lightly worn sophistication, serving its purpose, creating light and shade and giving the band plenty to work on. There was also a very appealing simplicity and directness, about many of the melodic and harmonic building blocks, reflected in some of Shenoy’s soloing. For all the hustle, bustle and complexity, it put me in mind of Andy Sheppard’s penchant for simple melodies, particularly on the slower tunes.
This was an early gig on a very extensive tour and there are plans to record this material. Catching them on the tour and checking out the subsequent recording are definitely to be recommended. Details here