I've always favored the more outrageous singers—Leon Thomas, Chris Farlowe, Dicken, Nina Simone, Sammy Davis, the chutzpahed bombast of Tom Jones, David Surkamp, John Martyn, people like that. These individuals developed risky approaches to the laryngeal side of the house and thus added significantly to art itself. Such needn't be on the order of Yoko Ono or Meredith Monk (who are quizzical in any regard anyway), but it's always so nice to have something new brought to the table, isn't it? Jost tackles a hell of a lot in Breaking Through, from scat to jagged interpretationalism to whiskey blues to abstract pointillism to moody post-Weill cabaretics, but what really marks his audacities are the charts, just about every one of which he writes, arranges, and orchestrates (two co-arranged).
Jost's take on Bill Evans' Waltz for Debbie is the reconverted blues side of Over the Rainbow, aching in the forlorn darkness of a nightroom rather than Kansas wheatfields, a poignant tear running down in the dark at the heart of the city's depths. Then he turns Days of Wine and Roses completely upside down, be-bopping the old standard over to the modern art wing of LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) to stand beside a Miro canvas as Mark Adler's flutework darts about the room, a hummingbird tumbling and carousing for the pure joy of it. Blues on Corner is purest skoobly-bop, no lyrics, no snatches of verse, just bouncing vocables tripping on down the festive boulevard, stripped-down existentialism without meaning or necessity to explain itself.
I indeed find a lot of Farlowe in Jost, not in any of the Thomas-esque wobbly encantations that so enthrall Farlowe's devotees, marking Chris' true territory, but in just about everything else: tone, dynamics, emphases, bravado, confidence, risk-taking, pure delight in artistry, and so on. He also possesses that indefatigable iron backbone Tom Jones exhibited, and there's some Louis Armstrong in the guy as well, as Sweet Lorraine evidences. His calling card, though, is the ability to grab your attention and never let go…save maybe once, in his own Book Faded Brown, wherein Jost shares Cocker-esque sensitivities in reflective nuance, growly expositions tamed to further inflect the rough side of life mellowing out in world-weary exasperation and hope.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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