The "Made in the UK" series continued to captivate on Monday night with the American debut of Dinosaur, led by trumpeter and composer Laura Jurd. The band -- which includes the members of the Elliot Galvin Trio -- makes spacey jazz that sounds wonderfully imaginative and restless, yet always feels in control. The quartet can play things delicate and ruminative, or bold and on full blast.
In fact, Jurd's music seemed to allow keyboardist Elliot Galvin, electric bassist Conor Chaplin, and drummer Corrie Dick to get the lead out in a way the music didn't just the night before. It's truly incredible the difference one person can make. The three musicians each simply seemed less inhibited and more at ease. This all makes sense, when you consider that the performances at the XRIJF mark the first concerts in the US for all four musicians on stage.
Dinosaur bookended its first set of the evening the same way it does on its album "Together, As One." The band began with "Awakening," which indeed, sounded like a busy city just waking up to the day as the sunshine starts to stream. Chaplin set up the groove with a constant, killer bass ostinato, while Dick's expressive painting with percussion kept up the mid-tempo momentum. With Galvin laying down the harmonic context, Jurd was a paragon of cool, her regal trumpet sound serving both as a serenade and a clarion call to life. The set came to a close with "Interlude," a calming -- if somewhat anticlimactic -- tune loaded with ethereality.
The next show I caught could not have been more different than that of Dinosaur, but it was no less enjoyable. Nashville-based singer-songwriter Lera Lynn has a voice to get lost in. With appealing earnestness, it somehow sounds like moonlight -- bright yet ever so dusky. Flanked by guitarists at Anthology, Lynn played a set of NPR-friendly folk and country songs that managed to be both hopeful and forlorn, with just the right amount of twang.
Some of the concert's best moments were the darkest -- including the haunting "My Least Favorite Life," from the soundtrack for HBO's hit series "True Detective." Elsewhere, an undeniably catchy and forbidding guitar riff dominated the ominous "What You Done," which sounded like it was straight out of a Western. That said, my favorite song of the evening happened to be the last one, when Lynn turned Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" into a minor-key ballad, reframing the lyrics as a cautionary tale. The devil-may-care attitude of the original, with its jaunty, up-tempo character, was gone. The newer, more tragic version in its place sounded fresh, and somehow more appropriately paired with the words.
Tuesday night, I'm looking forward to the return of trumpeter Mario Rom and his trio Interzone to the festival, at The Little Theatre, as well as a performance by Ole Mathisen at Lutheran Church of the Reformation.