John Dworkin | Short Story

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Short Story

by John Dworkin

Straight-ahead combined with more modern sounding playing and writing make this debut recording from Guitarist/Writer Dworkin a fresh, satisfying listen.
Genre: Jazz: Bebop
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Lalli Pop
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5:52 album only
2. As Rose Rosaly
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9:46 album only
3. Born Too Late
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6:25 album only
4. Duke Ellington's Sound of Love
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4:52 album only
5. That's Right
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8:30 album only
6. Song for Joel
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10:54 album only
7. Darn that Dream
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2:46 album only


Album Notes
John Dworkin has been named as one of three finalists in the 2004 John Lennon Songwriting Contest (Jazz Category) for his composition "As Rose Rosaly". Recently, Dworkin has also been writing for the online jazz magazines and

The Press on "Short Story":

Mark Sabbatini from writes:

"Dworkin does double duty as a composer, writing five of the seven songs... They possess a comforting, low-key quality; he's explaining his view of the musical world rather than pounding listeners over the head with it. He's also working with highly compatible co-players delivering thoughtful and largely harmonic passages without showing off... The ten-minute song {'As Rose Rosaly'} sifts through modernistic styles at various tempos, with Dworkin and trombonist Brett Sroka (who excels throughout) going full-tilt through a series of accessible phrases shifting so constantly it's poetry instead of prosaic. Everyone downshifts near the end, where Dworkin's harmonics embrace Sroka and Lalli during an ascent to near the song's starting point. Another favorite he {Dworkin} cites is "Song For Joel," an understated free rumbling with a consistent hint of buildup. The thick textures clear out for a lengthy solo midsection reminiscent of Metheny acoustic projects such as "Quartet" and "Trio." Similar qualities at a more furious pace come on "That's Right," while "Born Too Late" takes the principle back a few years to the Montgomery era. The best ballad is Dworkin's solo version of "Darn That Dream," as the freer setting seems to inspire extra color in his lyrics and supporting harmonies... Short Story is an easy album to like, pleasing on a surface level and rewarding focused listeners for extra effort."

J. Hunter from writes:

Someone said, “All past is prologue.” Probably Shakespeare, but I can't find my Bartlett's Quotations, so we'll leave it as anonymous for the moment. At any rate, John Dworkin's latest disc, Short Story, is a disc of the present that presages a bright future. But it is deeply rooted in Dworkin's past, and that's not a bad thing.

Doc Severinson's Tonight Show Orchestra an “orchestra” contained some of the best jazz players on the West Coast: Besides Severinson himself (who, wardrobe issues aside, was a hell of a horn player), there was Eddie Shaughnessy, Ernie Watts, Conte Condoli and Snookie Young, to name just a few. The bass player in the band was Joel DiBartolo; he went on to become the jazz-studies director at Flagstaff's Northern Arizona University (My sister's alma mater. Go Lumberjacks!), where his Jazz Ensemble One unit included Dworkin and tenor player Dominic Lalli. DiBartolo later brought his charges to drummer Francisco Rosaly, and the four players formed regional sensation the Raging Jazz Project. Dworkin's on this coast now, but his past has come with him, and shows itself in many forms on Short Story.

First, Lalli appears on three pieces - “As Rose Rosaly”, “Born Too Late”, and the interestingly titled “Lalli Pop”. I'm sure you also noticed his former bandmates' names in the previous tunes; DiBartolo gets his own song with the meditative “Song For Joel”. None of this should be surprising after you read the liner notes, where Dworkin calls his time with the Project “RJPU”. In thanking his former bandmates, he says, “Inviting me into your group was a precious gift.” With Short Story, that gift keeps on giving.

What draws me to Dworkin is not his playing. He shows the expected influences - Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, Pat Metheny (without the effects box, thank God) - and his solos are, overall, quite good... No, what draws me to Dworkin is a trait he shares with Dave Douglas: While he's a good player, he's a much, much better writer! All his compositions (which make up the lion's share of Short Story) are thoughtful, layered, and provide a wide canvas for his artists to paint pretty pictures. His best work comes when he combines Brett Sroka's trombone with Lalli on “Rosaly” and “Born Too Late”, and with Matthew Garrison on “Song For Joel”. Sroka's 'bone adds a deeper, almost discordant color to the disc's palate. Garrison's thick, rich tenor (which also appears on three tunes) also adds contrast, in that while Lalli's sharp-edged solos skirt the high end of the tenor, Garrison roves the bottom range, which was perfect both for the reverent tone of “Joel” and the wistful vibe of “Sound Of Love”.

As NAU and the Raging Jazz Project were prologue for Short Story, I'm hoping Short Story will be seen as prologue to the development of a great jazz composer. John Dworkin has the talent and the potential to do it, so stay tuned. I know I plan to.

J HUNTER is a former announcer/producer for radio stations in the Capital Region and the Bay Area, including KSJS/San Jose (where he was Assistant Music Director/Jazz programming), Q104 WQBK/Albany, and WSSV/Saratoga. He has also written music and theatre reviews for the Glens Falls Chronicle. He currently resides in Clifton Park.

Mark Keresman from writes:

"Most mainstream jazz fretboard fiends don't do a lot for me because they tend to play it a tad too safe... but {Dworkin} avoids much of the bland, facile "groovy licks" approach that bog down many mainstream guit-cats. He has a touch of soul-jazz in his approach (i.e., Melvin Sparks, Grant Green) as well as a healthy dollop of 1950s West Coast cool, albeit more 'descended' from the horn players than the guitarists. JD does a lot of cool (as in "way-cool") textural work -- namely, attractively blending the timbre of his six-strings with his horn cats. Also, he knows when to let-up, realizing he doesn't have to drown the listener in a torrent of notes. Further, most of this disc's tracks are originals, which are indeed thoughtful compositions (although he's no Gil Evans, though I wouldn't be surprised if he copped some lessons from the Master G), not merely frameworks for 'blowing' -- Dworkin and tenor saxists Dom Lalli & Matt Garrison (a bluesy, free-aware robust tone, oy!) play melodically, and eschew bebop and fusion clichés while they're at it. Pick radio hit: "Born Too Late," a genial, sweet-tart moody-blue swinger that recalls the early 60s Blue Note sound but isn't slavish or heavy-handed about it. The one guitarist I can liken him to is Pat Martino, if that's any help. Some very nice stuff, this: easygoing (but not 'Smooth,' if you know what I mean) jazz of considerable substance."

The band on "Short Story" -

John Dworkin - Guitar, Producer
Dominic Lalli - Saxophone (Tracks 1-3)
Matthew Garrison - Saxophone (Tracks 4-6)
Brett Sroka - Trombone
Chris Haney - Bass
Matt Dinsick - Drums

All tunes written and arranged by John Dworkin, except track #4 (Charles Mingus) and track #7 (Jimmy Van Heusen)


to write a review


Poignant. Smart. Equal parts cool and soul.
What I love most about this cd is its ratio of head and heart. It's obviously the creation of a sophisticated, knowledgeable mind but also of a deeply poetic soul. All the tunes keep growing on me. The melodies alternately slay me and make me smile. I can't listen to the final, lyrical section of "As Rose Rosaly" without crying. I can't listen to "That's Right" without grinning and shaking my head.