September 27, 2011
The son of songwriter and producer Joel Dorn, Adam Dorn was grown in the shadows of the musical giants flowing freely from the tree of Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegun, and Jerry Wexler while his father recorded for Atlantic Records at the height of its run during the ’60s and ’70s. From a musically charged gestation, Dorn evolved to become a prominent fixture on the drum and bass circuit, known to those following the bombastic movement of his multi-layered sound, as Mocean Worker. A bassist and graduate of Berklee College of Music, Dorn has made a career of being an outlier from his home base in Philadelphia. Fusing the whimsical with a wealth of historically charged musicality, Mocean Worker is the founder and major purveyor of what he calls breakbeat jazz. While his catalog is nothing to sneeze at, he has become particularly well known for his remixes. Candygram For Mowo! arrives a deeply affected product of its environment intent upon infecting the surrounding area. Peel yourself away from the captivating cover art, itself as much a nod to Metropolis as Mr. Wonka, and get you some.
Watch Mocean Worker – “Shooby Shooby Do Yah”
The release opens with “Shooby Dooby Do Yah”, the kind of big band house groove charming enough to capture a cross-section of tastes, from fans of Cab Calloway to DJ Spinna and King Britt. A great way to set the tone for the subsequent performances, the opening song is important to each individual composition’s traits.
Mocean Worker – “Shooby Dooby Do Yah”
“Shooby Shooby Do Yah!” | MOCEAN WORKER by Calabro Music Media
Following, “Swagger” is more rat pack than Roc-la-Familia, and thoroughly refreshing as a result. All the while Dorn’s bass booms like a wide swaying body, playfully shoving the horns and piano around. “Do Like Ya Like” continues that trend of outright sass later in album; the track plays like an anthem to every woman who has ever deigned to place her hands on her hips in a show of outright moxie.
Mocean Worker – “Swagger”
“Swagger” // Mocean Worker by Calabro Music Media
Interestingly, Dorn finds a kindred spirit in fellow avowed experimentalist, Lyrics Born for “My Own Little World”, a recording that also features saxophonist Mindi Abair – the relative calm in the midst of their storm. Dorn offers a dose of post-hand jive power to the people basement party realness on “Sistas and Bruthas”, a track that bleeds into “It Still Don’t Mean A Thing”, creating a dynamic duo of compositions that could easily vie for best of those collected. The latter features trumpeter Steven Bernstein, dousing the whole affair in a healthy dose of funk. Featuring multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk, “Mel’s Torment” is itself a bright moment, as Dorn allows his bass engorged rhythm to fly around a sample of Kirk’s flute.
Mocean Worker – “My Own Little World”
My Own Little World | Mocean Worker (featuring Lyrics Born & Mindi Abair) by Calabro Music Media
Unfortunately, “Sho Nuff” shows up with an all-star roster of contributors to give those songs some serious work. Featuring Kirk again with Bill Frisell, Charlie Hunter, and Hal Wilner, the track sounds a lot like pink elephants parading to the score of Shaft – the track quieting suddenly and confusingly to what could be argued as an abrupt ending. Candygram For Mowo! is suddenly emotional as Dorn offers what sounds like a glimpse into the after-lives of radio waves lost in space with “JD”, a ghastly dream sequence of a track. Dorn presents what could be a tribute to the late producer, Jay Dilla. The track opens with what sounds like a deconstructed mash of sounds from Dilla’s signature engine rev to his sample source, Raymond Scott’s “Lightworks”. The sounds are faint and more than likely found, but the organization of the noise is enough to make one wonder what Dorn’s “JD” really stands for.
With Candygram For Mowo!, Adam Dorn has employed an unchained ear and an affinity for rhythm to create a body of work that challenges popular convention and makes a pointed attempt to take chances with tempo and stark contrasts between subgenres of jazz to create an aural patchwork that is something of a mashup, but much closer to what it might sound like if a musician were to sample, chop, and rearrange the most vital elements of himself. Because Dorn is a musician who happens to spend much of his time working in an electronic medium, the end result is a release with the sensibilities of a rave, the soul of a bandstand, and spectacular sound.
Words by Karas Lamb