By Adam Greenberg
On The Hand of Dog, Seattle-based artist PJ Newman puts himself to work creating a series of innovative sets. At times reminiscent of Zappa, and at times simply playing with the sounds of his samples, Newman puts together a nice collection of works. His guitar is the centerpiece of the majority of the pieces, often in interplay with a pair of saxes, courtesy of the highly able Jessica Lurie and Sue Orfield. Ben Smith provides a solid drum backing on the necessary tracks, and fiddle star Martin Hayes and bluegrasser Danny Barnes each provide their talents for a track or two. It’s avant-garde music on the side of jazz, with notes of the Doors, synth rock, and Ornette Coleman thrown in for good measure. Tread with caution as it’s somewhat uncharted territory, but there are rewards to be reaped in this album for the curious listener.