Paul Dunmall
Yes Tomorrow
Discus 134CD
(2022)
Available formats: CD/DL

 

“It’s a bold move from Dunmall, brilliantly executed by a talented band on fine, fiery form.” – Daniel Spicer, JAZZWISE

“This is improvised music that really swings.” – Tony Dudley Evans, LONDON JAZZ NEWS

 

Dunmall the composer is to the fore here, delving deep into his musical history by providing a range of material that celebrates the breadth of his experience including aspects of jazz, funk and soul. The flexible ostinato based pieces are constructed around the unique musical personalities of the players; the first soloist on each track being the only preordained performance decision. Dunmall has always actively encouraged younger players and many of us have benefitted from Paul’s personal and musical generosity. That generosity is evident here – it is an album where he is happy to lay out for long stretches, trusting his band to take ownership of the material, and shape it in their own ways. Dunmall commented to me that this is “a guitarist’s album,” and indeed it is the self-assured approach and distinctive brittle sound of Saunders, right from the opening riff, which sets the album’s tone. Throughout, the guitarist is the glue that holds everything together, constantly being alive to the other musicians.’ Trombonist Foote is perfectly chosen as second horn, contrasting and complementing Dunmall and Saunders’ improvisational approaches, completely at home in this context his bravura contributions are powerful and exhilarating. Dunmall’s music has so often been underpinned by the strength of the bass and drum partnerships that he chooses, and this album is no exception. Both Owston and Bashford are superlative soloists and here they also demonstrate their seemingly telepathic understanding of each other’s musical approach: propelling the music forwards, creating an unshakeable support for the ensemble, and providing delicately beautiful interactions. Dunmall’s own improvisations are typically inventive and stylistically varied but are often more concise than perhaps we are used to – not seeking to dominate the ensemble. The final track, however, is an extended solo improvisation, providing a coda of sorts, bringing us back to earth by offering the listener a thoughtful commentary on what has gone before. – Bruce Coates

Paul Dunmall – alto & tenor saxophones
Steven Saunders – guitar
Richard Foote – trombone
James Owston – bass
Jim Bashford -drums

34CD - Weavels
162CD COVER IMAGE
162CD
Paul Dunmall
Bright Light A Joyous Celebration
148CD – Paul Dunmall – It’s A Matter Of Fact
148CD
Paul Dunmall
It’s A Matter Of Fact

Reviews

The album’s Ornette-ish title suggests a sense of departure for British tenor giant Paul Dunmall and, indeed, here we find him stepping away from the huge, roaring, spiritually motivated post-Coltrane-isms with which he’s most readily associated and presenting, instead, a suite of more concise compositions built around neatly arranged hooks. It’s also clearly a reference to the younger, Midlands-based musicians he’s chosen as collaborators. Dunmall himself takes something of a back seat, letting the spotlight linger in particular on two impressive front-line voices. Trombonist Richard Foote summons the ghost of Roswell Rudd on tracks like the bluesy stroll of “Medgar Evers”, digging back into the late ‘bone master’s Dixieland roots with a lascivious leer that cuts through the group improvisations. Guitarist Steven Saunders plays with a taut urgency on cuts like the opener “Micromys Minutus”, sketching the rhythmically complex head with wiry restraint before taking a delightfully knarled solo. Meanwhile bassist James Owston and drummer Jim Bashford brew up a rolling undertow that’s as likely to tip over into racing free-bop as it is to dissolve unto oceanic bliss. It’s a bold move from Dunmall, brilliantly executed by a talented band on fine, fiery form. – Daniel Spicer, JAZZWISE

I had a huge problem last year when I had to update Paul Dunmall’s entry in the online Grove Dictionary Of Jazz, as his career has been so varied and so prolific. With more than 160 albums to his name, and many more appearances as a sideman, Dunmall is a hard man to pin down, despite his evidently pivotal role. Fortunately, his latest release focuses the mind a bit, as it concentrates on his work as a composer, working with a range of material that celebrates the wealth of his experience, including aspects of jazz, funk and soul. The flexible, ostinato-based pieces are all constructed around the unique musical personalities of the players; the first soloists on each track being the only preordained performance decision. The soloists themselves are a quartet of fiery, young Birmingham Conservatoire musicians, dominated by the self-assured yet distinctively brittle sound of guitarist Steven Saunders, whose sets the album’s tone right from the opening riff; indeed, Dunmall has commented that this is “a guitarist’s album” on which he is more than happy to lay out for long stretches. Trombonist Richard Foote contrasts and complements Dunmall’s and Sanders’s improvisational approaches, while both bassist James Owston and drummer Jim Bashford are a fine partnership that propels the music forward. As for Dunmall, he is as inventive as ever, but perhaps more concise that usual, fitting into the ensemble rather than dominating it. Of the eight tracks, Medgar Evens stands out for its Mingus-style blues preaching, Cosmic Communion for its propulsive bass solo and fluid guitar solo, and Golden Age for its brooding swagger, but in truth, all are urgent and forthright, except the concluding Every Soul, an extended solo outing for Dunmall that offers a thoughtful commentary on what has gone before, an evocative ending to a very strong set. – Simon Adams, JAZZ JOURNAL

Reeds maestro Paul Dunmall has built a super-large portfolio of recordings. I’ve had my ears around a fair few of them. The presence of Steve Saunders’ guitar on Yes Tomorrow turned my eardrums back 20 years – Dunmall’s work with guitarist Philip Gibbs (check-out the recently the re-released, Onosante – a live album with Keith Tippett, piano and Pete Fairclough, drums, plus EastWestNorthSouth with Gibbs and Mark Sanders, drums, on FMR). The roots of the current quintet, is founded in the old Gibbs/Dunmall partnership; a grouping which enabled the great reeds player to stretch his exploratory horns alongside electricity after extensive work within the seminal acoustic Mujician quartet. The Yes Tomorrow album is not the first time Dunmall and Saunders have operated together, however the ‘stretch’ on this session is different to those I’ve heard in the past. Here the guitar is undoubtedly the centrepiece… of course tenor sax, and particularly alto sax, fire powerful oxygen, but it’s Steve Saunders’ soloing which constantly keys the lock of the overall direction of travel. I’ve had no discussion about the recording with Mr Dunmall so the following pointers are my own suppositions, together with what the ears suggest to me. Here are three of my indicators on this tasty album: 1. The title and the quintet – Yes Tomorrow says to me this is a reply to a proposal Ornette Coleman made in 1959. Tomorrow Is The Question was Coleman’s second recording for Atlantic records. Thirty years later his electric band, Primetime recorded Today, Yesterday And Tomorrow with the late great Bern Nix on a big fat electric Gibson. The title track, Yes Tomorrow, exudes the whole the melodic ‘peg’ that Primetime was built on. The Bashford/Owston drum & bass partnership kick like the primetimers whilst at the same time playing the future-tense. And Paul Dunmall’s 2021 alto cuts a far more ‘open wound’ than his much loved ‘tough’ tenor closed-circuit-exploits of the past. This is future music, irrespective of its nod to the birth of ‘free improv’. 2. On this session the solo space is not contested, rather it’s there for the taking. Something which Jim Bashford does to pertinent effect on Drum; and Steve Saunders positively macraws his way into Parrots. This willingness on Dumall’s part to give ground is not to be dismissed. I count it as leadership. The Big Man has some remarkable moments himself – the final solo track Every Soul is arguably his finest purely acappella moment on record – precisely because all the ‘push’ is directed inward – truly ‘soulful’. And the opener, Micromys Minutes, though starting with Saunders, contains all the thunder and spark that listeners expect from a Dunmall tenor break. 3. Medgar Evers…. like a lot of people of my generation I first heard the name Medgar Evers on Bob Dylan’s song Only A Pawn In Their Game. Decades later I caught up with it again on Wadada Leo Smith’s stunning album Ten Freedom Summers. Well, done to Paul Dunmall for putting the name to music again. If you don’t know about Medgar Evers, a guy who caught a racist bullet back in 1963, then the information is out there to read. Shame, shame, shame those bullets still get fired… and necks still get stamped on. (So, who exactly is the ‘their’ in this game?) Here, musically, there’s fine improv, mixed into tidy riffs with the Bashford/Owston drum & bass team totally calling the tune into spatial patter. I love it. Reviews are only catchers in the rye, they aren’t a book just touchstones. I don’t bother writing about what I don’t like… how would that help anyone? Yes Tomorrow is definitely all of next week. Paul Dunmall’s 2021 Quintet is worth your purse. – Steve Day, May, 2022.

There are two particular features of the album that make it very special. The first is that six of the seven tracks are based on compositions by Paul which lead into either solo or collective improvisations. Paul is known as an extremely inventive improviser, arguably the most exciting improvising saxophonist in Europe and one who also enjoys a strong reputation in the USA, but he has always written compositions for certain of his groups. In improvising groups where an element of structure or composition is introduced, the themes are often quite abstract and are similar to the actual improvisations that they generate. In Paul’s case, however, the compositions draw on his previous experience with other styles, for example, his work with blues guitarist Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson, or with the Divine Light Mission band in California which Paul joined in his youth and which rehearsed every day, often with Alice Coltrane. So his compositions on this CD are quite funky or soulful with a strong element of spirituality. They certainly lead brilliantly into the improvised passages on each track. The second feature is that the quintet Paul formed for the recording session are all young players active on the Birmingham scene, both in free improvisation and in more straightahead jazz. In recent years Paul has been very keen to play with many young players who have graduated from the Birmingham Conservatoire jazz course. In this sense he is something of an Art Blakey of free improvisation. The players all rise the the challenge of working with Paul, and have all really taken to this form of freely improvised music with an element of composition. They are Steve Saunders, guitar, Richard Foote, trombone, James Owston, double bass, and Jim Bashford, drums. I’ll try to capture the essence of three of the tracks in order to describe the music. Track 1 Micromys Minutus, is intially led by Steve Saunders on guitar backed by a haunting theme from the horns; there is a nicely effective contrast between the busy guitar and the atmospheric nature of the line from the horns backing the guitar. Steve then then solos accompanied by bass and drums. About a third of the way through the track Paul enters on tenor sax, and plays a great solo over guitar, bass and drums; this leads into a collective improvisation between trombone, sax, guitar, bass and drums. The final section is again led by the guitar and features a variation on the earlier theme with a strong groove. The piece winds down with the bass accompanied by the drums. Track 2, Medgar Evers, has a number of different features; the composition is quite soulful and joyful; it has features of an anthem. The focus on this track is more on individual solos or duos rather than collective improvisation; Richard Foote takes a fine solo on trombone followed by an equally fine solo by Paul on tenor sax. Steve on guitar then enters, interacts with the alto and then solos over the ensemble. The track concludes with a funky theme reminiscent of certain compositions of Charles Mingus. Track 7, the title track Yes Tomorrow, has an upbeat funky theme out of which comes a wonderful interaction between Paul on alto sax and Richard on trombone over a very strong pulse from James on bass and Jim on drums – I always think that a trombone saxophone frontline works really well. Then the track proceeds through a number of very effective interactive improvisations; there is a wonderful passage with bass and guitar with a rumbling trombone in the background, a duet between bass and drums, then a short duet between Jim on drums and Paul on alto sax before a full on passage of collective improvisation by the whole ensemble. The final track, Every Soul, is a solo improvisation by Paul on alto saxophone which draws on the bluesy and soulful aspects of the compositions on the album in a totally improvised piece that develops in a completely logical manner. The very full and informative album notes by Bruce Coates quote Paul’s comment that ‘this is a guitarist album’ and Steve Saunders’ playing is excellent throughout. But so is the playing of the rest of the band with Richard Foote showing how strong an improviser he is, and James Owston and Jim Bashford providing exactly the rhythmic pulse that Paul’s music requires. Paul is, in fact, often content to step back, and allow the rest of the band develop the material. I should also like to echo Bruce Coates’ comment that Yes Tomorrow is a particularly apt title for the album as the music both celebrates the past while suggesting new exciting ways forward. Yes Tomorrow features seven compositions by Paul Dunmall, plus one solo saxophone improvised track. Dunmall is known as one of Europe’s finest improvising saxophonists and is usually heard playing totally free music…The combination of his blues and soul influenced writing and the free improvisation of the subsequent solos from the group on this album creates a unique and very exciting mix of music. in recent years Dunmall has enjoyed working with young player, mostly graduates from the Conservatoire in Birmingham and has taken pride in introducing them to free jazz. On this album the quintet has Steve Saunders on guitar, Richard Foote on trombone, James Owston on bass and Jim Bashford on drums. Saunders is particularly effective throughout and Dunmall is reported (on Bruce Coates’ excellent sleeve notes) as having commented that Yes Tomorrow is very much the guitarist’s album. This is not to downplay the contribution of Foote, who interacts brilliantly with Dunmall and the strong pulse provided by Owston and Bashford. Indeed, thanks to the contributions of all five musicians, this is improvised music that really swings. – Tony Dudley Evans, LONDON JAZZ NEWS

UK saxophonist Paul Dunmall the composer comes to the fore on Yes Tomorrow. Steven Saunders’s guitar is as prominent a voice as Dunmall’s saxophone and Richard Foote’s trombone, his crabby fingerpicking animating knotty tunes like “Micromys Minutos” and “Parrots”. The latter romps along on bassist James Owston and drummer Jim Bashford’s open grooves, before an icy shard of guitar reverb signals a clean break into a bass feature. There’s further abstraction in the title track, as the group’s frantic post-bop collapses into a heap of burbling trombone, flickering saxophone and mangled guitar. “Medgar Evers” is a fine tribute to the US Civil Rights activist, moving between a stately theme and bluesy riffs. – Stewart Smith, THE WIRE

It is incredible how many albums sax player Paul Dunmall has been involved with over the years with his own name groups running from quartet to octet. Here in all its glory we have the second outing for his quintet, but essentially it is the sextet without trumpeter Percy Pursglove, so the comfort with which the players interact is there in all its glory, with perhaps just a little extra space for them to unfold. It is interesting how each of the players here seems to understand just what is required in an improvisational capacity to fit in with the others or if let loose on a solo strand, and how the chosen notes should unfold, with unexpected choices smoothly linking into passages that sweep straight out of your jazz dreams. Although Paul is author of the pieces recorded here, the generosity of spirit that shines a light on every player makes this a very warm listen, with a little hint of funk here and a touch of soul there. There is a liberal sprinkling of what might be considered classic jazz as well as devotional diversions into the spiritual realm. Spread across eight tracks and well over an hour, the album delves well into each player’s solo comfort zones but when they all merge, it is when the fireworks start as they bounce off one another. Most pieces start with a single player laying down something personal; “Drum” sees Jim Bashford‘s travelling tom heavy, more structural than the rolling tidal drama of his usual playing, while “Cosmic Communion” opens with James Owston mining the neck for all its worth with subtle, spacey, spidery bass movement until the group appears over the horizon and takes things off to a faraway land. the lion’s share of the musical duties fall to guitarist Steven Saunders, whose style veers from angular, brittle and sharp little movements to almost Santana-esque sweeps and are a real complement to Paul’s sweet, drifting parts, particularly on opener “Micromys Minutus”, where Steven worries at little figures, nagging and returning while Paul’s bleary sax smears light across the sky. As each piece progresses, so the group gradually joins in until everybody is soaring and diving, delivering ’40s-influenced toe tapping on “Medgar Evers” or sending things in a more spiritual direction, the players breathing in unison, Richard Foote‘s trombone particularly effective in tracking the proceedings on “Golden Age”. It makes it sound very busy; but in actual fact, there is time to take stock and allow the pieces to insinuate their way into your consciousness. The variety is really impressive and the playing is just great. Yes Tomorrow is a fantastic taster to lure you in to the Dunmall universe. – Mr Olivetti, FREQ https://freq.org.uk/reviews/paul-dunmall-quintet-yes-tomorrow/

Dunmall’s dual saxophones add the necessary variety to Yes Tomorrow. But its distinctiveness is also expressed since a guitar takes the place of a piano or a second saxophone in this quintet. In fact its Saunders who frequently sets the pace for the selections. This begins right from “Micromys Minutus” where his spiky frails move on top, below and around the other players output with splayed chords and Rock-like stings. These splatter effects remain until the end, with Dunmall’s cries and vibrations and Foote’s flutters and bites dominating the centre section. The saxophonist whose admitted main influence is the spiritual Jazz of John Coltrane, still finds a way to work guitar effects into “Medgar Evers” and “Golden Age”, the compositions most clearly indebted to that style. Balancing ecstatic impulses and swing interludes in the polyphonic exposition of the first, guitar twangs and slashes underline the face-off between snarling reed doits and downward plunger tones. These trombone textures are emphasized as Foote’s portamento process preserves the linear flow even as the tempo doubles. The intensity of that track is replicated on “Golden Age”, as guitar plinks and pops accompany the horns’ split tones as the narrative slides up the scale driven by saxophone smears and double tonguing. Each player also gets descriptive interludes elsewhere. Saunders brief flamenco-style intro brings in a contrapuntal horn exposition on “Cosmic Communion”. Horn snarls bleed into one another in broken counterpoint, later joined by finger cymbal pings and repetitive drum strokes. Elsewhere Owston shows that at his quietist he can clip and click an accompaniment for the guitarist or provide a power string thump to mute the drummer’s press rolls and ruffs at their most bellicose. Dunmall’s reed smears and bites are muted on the concluding “Every Soul”, where his passionate unaccompanied head glides into a colorful Blues holler before a clarion upsurge leads to a Swing style ending. As for Foote , not only can his slurred glissandi go mano-o-mano with Dunmall when the later works up to speaking-in-tongues like intensity, but he can harmonize with Saunders and Dumall at their gentlest to produce a brief folksy coda to what otherwise is an exercise in freeform noise ejaculations. – Ken Waxman, https://www.jazzword.com/reviews/paul-dunmall-quintet/

This is an album by veteran British Jazz / Improvised Music icon, saxophonist / composer Paul Dunmall, and his quintet, which also includes guitarist Steven Saunders, trombonist Richard Foote, bassist James Owston and drummer Jim Bashford. The album presents eight original compositions, all by the leader. Considering the fact that Dunmall is one of the most prolific British Jazz musicians, with a vast discography to his credit, this album is even more surprising than one might expect, since in contrast to his mostly Improvised Music ventures, this album is almost “tame” and “well behaved”, emphasizing his compositional skills, rather than his improvisational eccentricity. But on the other hand this is still Free Jazz by all means, with extensive improvisations and all, but it is also way more “listenable” and acceptable to a larger audience that most of his recordings. Described by Dunmall himself as “a guitarist’s album”, the role of the guitar here is certainly crucial, building the connecting tissue of the entire affair, with the horn section on one pole and the rhythm section on the other. With strong Blues, Funk and even Rock hints incorporated within the music, the guitar riffs are an essential ingredient within the bubbling sonic mixture. The quintet manages to achieve a much “larger” effect, often sounding almost orchestral, when the music becomes most intensive. But there are many delicate passages of solo performance, like the superb solo bass parts, or intimate duets; in short never a dull moment. The age differences between the leader and his companions seem to disappear completely, in the heat of the moment. Overall, this is a wonderful album, full of excellent music and sublime performances by all participants, which manages to open the Free Jazz / Improvised Music idiom to a wider audience, without any Artistic compromise, simply by being undeniably creative, coherent and honest. Jazz lovers, who would instinctively not plunge into music labeled as such, are wholeheartedly invited to give it a try this time – you won’t regret it. Of course there is no need to convince those already won over. – Adam Baruch http://www.adambaruch.com/reviews_item.asp?item=107204

PAUL DUNMALL plays alto & tenor sax, and together with his quintet that consists of guitarist STEVEN SAUNDERS, trombone player RICHARD FOOTE, bassist JAMES OWSTON and drummer JIM BASHFORD, he created an exciting improvised experimental jazz sound that is likewise based around Paul’s sax. The 8 long songs leave a lot of room for improvisation, and despite a lot of experimental parts, the songs also carry beautiful original melodies. They are all composed by Paul himself, and together with the other musicians he created a fascinating album that will be mostly of interest for the fans of free jazz. – Strutter’zine

Mit Holz- und Linolschnittkunst von Paul Dunmall selber fällt Yes Tomorrow (Discus 134 CD) ins Auge. Das PAUL DUNMALL QUINTETT in Birmingham, das so einen guten Eindruck machen will, ist das Paul Dunmall Sextet von „Cosmic Dream Projection“ minus Percy Pursglove, also Steven Saunders (von Glitch) an E-Gitarre, Richard Foote (von Young Pilgrims) an Posaune und, bereits tüchtig dunmallisiert und auch im Xhosa Cole Quartet vereint, James Owston am Kontrabass und Jim Bashford an den Drums. Dunmall in seiner altmeisterlichen Souveränität als Composer-Performer mit Alto- & Tenorsaxofon braucht weder Elton Dean noch Keith Tippett, Paul Roger oder Tony Levin, um seine High-, Deep- und Profoundness zu unterfüttern, seine Visitenkarte liegt 300-fach vor. Seine Anspielungen hier sind mit ‘Cosmic Communion’, ‘Golden Age’ und ‘Every Soul’ als finalem Sologesang himmelwärts orientiert und herkunftsbewusst, mit ‘Micromys minutus’, der Zwergmaus, und ‘Parrots’ irgendwie tierisch und wohl auch selbstironisch, doch im Andenken an den ermordeten Bürgerrechtler ‘Medgar Evers’ rückgebunden an die Kämpfe, die einst Charles Mingus befeuert haben. Die Gitarre erhält besonders großen Spielraum, und Saunders nutzt ihn, von Anton Webern und den Spektralisten Murail und Grisey ebenso angeregt wie von Aphex Twin, mit spitzfingrigem Geprickel, während die Bläser wein- und melodieselig an den The Mouse That Roared-Krieg erinnern. Das Quintett stößt transatlantisch ins Zeitfenster zwischen McCarthy und dem Vietnam-Trouble zu Musik, die ihrem Plusquamperfekt spottet. Owston und Saunders bestechen mit Solos von transsubstantiativer Wandlungsfähigkeit, die Dunmall nur noch abzusegnen braucht, auch Bashfords ‘Drum’-Monolog ist eine Kröte, die man gerne schluckt, und der Anschub für animierte Kollektivwallung. Saunders pickt bei ‘Parrots’ schon auch blaue Töne neben allerhand gelben, aber es bleibt definitiv beim beschwingten, zartbitter versponnenen Gegenteil von norwegisch. Von Coltranes Goldenem Zeitalter führen viele Stufen abwärts, aber die Posaune bewahrt doch einiges davon im Herzen. Das Titelstück zeigt in kollektiver Verve, wieviel Zukunft in Hard-Bop-Power steckt, wenn man Gas gibt, die Gitarre traktiert, den Bogen schwingt, die Backen aufbläst. Dunmall besiegelt das mit beseelter Luftakrobatik, sprudelig, hymnisch und blue. – Rigobert Dittmann, BAD ALCHEMY

The lines curve, fragment and reform, incorporating vast harmonic and historical tracts in a seemingly parenthetical phrase. Fairly brief by the standards of saxophonist Paul Dunmall (who turned 70 last month), “Every Soul”, Yes Tomorrow’s closer, brings his inclusive and unpredictable approach into focus. In another way, that alto solo is an outlier. The pieces on these two albums are ensemble compositions, brimming with the invention, discovery and musical dynamism typical of every Dunmall project, composed or otherwise. Last year’s Yes Tomorrow release is a revelation in that the quintet plays Dunmall’s compositions, a relatively rare occurrence and always a treat. Steven Saunders (guitar), James Owston (bass) and Jim Bashford (drums) rock the opening salvos of “Micromys Minutus”, but soon slide into one of those wonderfully nebulous areas Davey Graham and company occupied in the late ’60s. They elongate the groove as Dunmall’s slithery melody obscures the pulse, so that by Saunders’ solo, genre has been irradicated. It isn’t even really a solo, as in late Coltrane fashion, everyone is improvising contrapuntally as meter dissolves, until the infectious groove returns at the end. The compositions explore particular areas: they can be alternately meditative and swinging, as in “Medgar Evers”, or they can blaze with the high energy of the title track, on which trombonist Richard Foote punches, growls and slides his way to the foreground. On It’s a Matter of Fact the genre-busting quintet is expanded to include Martin Archer (alto and baritone saxophones), Charlotte Keeffe (trumpet)and long-time Dunmall collaborator, vocalist Julie Tippetts (who turns 76 this month). Her strong, earthy voice propels “Calling the Spirits” into the stratosphere, paving the way for a subsequent collective improvision that blasts notions of time and space into irrelevance. The 18-minute piece grooves while conjuring Dunmall’s I Wish You Peace in distillation, just as “Latu Reunion” builds on its foundational freedoms, with Saunders’ electronic timbres an integral component. Dunmall guides the melody to the surface at 5:47, and his unisons with Tippetts are breathtaking as another vamp ensues. As with his compositions, Dunmall’s playing morphs continuously even as its roots remain firmly planted. Scales and blues licks coalesce with stunning precision, traversing tonalities with the speed and assurance of complete assimilation. The band aesthetic inhabits similar spaces. Listen at 17:30, as Dunmall lays down a pentatonic phrase and Saunders echoes the final pitch at a moment’s notice. Keeffe imbues the bluesy “Don’t Ask Why” with similarly rapid-fire flights of interregistral fancy, each gesture a kaleidoscope of dynamic contrast as the others murmur agreement. These are ensembles in which listening and playing generate symbiotic propulsion, just as tonal centers slide in and out of focus. The two albums are sides of the same coin and represent high points in a nearly half-century career. – Marc Medwin, NEW YORK CITY JAZZ RECORD

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