"Gibbs, Campbell, Dunmall, Carter, Rogers, Parker & Drake" may sound like the name of a law firm, but it isn't. It's a collection of some of the best free jazz improvisors from the US and Europe. Here is the band : Paul Dunmall, tenor saxophone; Philip Gibbs, guitar; Roy Campbell, trumpet, flute; Daniel Carter, alto saxophone, trumpet, flute; Paul Rogers, 7-string bass; William Parker, bass, shenai; Hamid Drake, drums. So, in sum, it's Other Dimensions In Music from the US, meets the Dunmall/Gibbs/Rogers trio from the UK, in essence two totally different bands with each their own style and approach. Other Dimensions In Music usually brings slow contemplative pure free jazz improvization, but with an exceptionally deep emotional component. Dunmall/Gibbs/Rogers are more "European", closer to free improv than free jazz at times. But with two such bands you can expect anything, with things potentially moving either way : total chaos because the mix doesn't take, or a great success. And it is the latter. Mainly because of the concept of the album. On the first CD, only 1 of the 6 tracks is played by the full two bands, but even if that is the case, this is not a blowing session, but rather a focused and respectful interaction, at times even offering an chamber-jazz feel, sensitive and elegant. The second CD brings the fourty-minute title track "Blown Away". And whatever the line-up, the music is great. Parker and Rogers seem to enjoy the interplay the most, having fun alternating arco and pizzi. On "Eye Miles" the whole band slows down for the two basses to play a duet, on the following track "Eel Miles", the basses circle around each other, tentatively, hesitantly, with Phil Gibbs' guitar adding shadows of sound, colors of intensity, sounding as deep and low-toned as the basses. On "Franticle", Dunmall plays for a change with the best rhythm section in the world, and you cannot but admire how both Parker and Drake together respond to Dunmall's great, but idiosyncratic tenor-playing. He can be a fierce and even violent blower, but not here, quite the contrary; his warm tone and creative style are all his own, regardless of the power he pushes out of his lungs. In that sense, the next track, "Sparticle", with Roy Campbell, Phil Gibbs and William Parker, continues in the same vein : great free soloing with a solid yet equally free bass and guitar rumbling in the background. What a pleasure to hear such great musicians at work. In the next piece, a slow and intimate free ballad (if that exists), Rogers and Drake are the rhythm section, first with Campbell on flute and Carter on trumpet, then later with the two trumpets until Carter picks up his sax. The subdued high intensity playing continues on the second disc, with wonderful interaction and alternation between the musicians, and it's absolutely rare that they're all playing together, it's rather a band of musicians selecting a short time sparring partner, or just doing a solo dance, or with two or three, then one of those goes on with someone else, just blowing away, free and unencumbered, ready for anything, open to initiatives and surprises. About halfway, the controlled and restrained tense calmness erupts into a total frenetic agony of all musicians playing together, with Parker's chenai competing in sound with Dunmall absent bagpipes, indeed just "blowing away", but not for long, because once they establish a common focus, the music becomes astonishingly beautiful, with Campbell playing a sad and melancholy solo to make Chet Baker jealous, and Rogers' 7-string bass comment is even more impressive, mixing in a more classical element, but then we move back into more experimental formats, equally strong, with Dunmall bringing the music back to a close harmony for a single tone of restrained tension. And I think that's the major achievement of this double-CD : all musicians without exception are masters of their instrument, but also of music itself, creating more than 100 minutes of emotional tension and surprises, creating something new, creating a new listening experience. Highly recommended.
Why does such music remain unnoticed?
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