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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

John Dikeman - The Double Trio (Astral Spirits, 2014) ****

By Paul Acquaro

Saxophonist John Dikeman is the lungs behind the high powered Amsterdam based group Cactus Truck. Originally from Wyoming, he traversed the country, stopped by Chicago and NYC, studied in Michigan and Vermont, lived and performed in Egypt, traveled through Europe and now has settled in recent years in Holland. If you know Cactus Truck, you may be inclined to think of the saxophonist in Brötzmann kind of way, but if the breadth of his travels and musical CV says anything, it is that there is a whole lot more to his playing as well - which is what we experience on The Double Trio.

The music of The Double Trio is still explosive, but by the same measure it is also dynamically and stylistically diverse. The recording was made in Chicago and the features musicians well known to blog readers: Jeb Bishop on trombone and electronics; Joshua Abrams and Jason Roebke on bass; Mike Reed and Frank Rosaly on drums and of course John Dikeman on saxophones. The contrasts of styles and approaches lends the recording a good energy. The Chicagoans keep the music grounded - with a swinging pulse and walking bass or textural backdrops that give Bishop and Dikeman a wide open musical canvas to both draw fine lines and splatter big sounds.

'Paling' kicks off side-a (this is a tape/download release) with Dikeman and Bishop playing off of each other's melodic ideas. The intensity builds and at about the three minute mark, the group is locked into an intense groove. The two drummers bounce off each other, the horns spar, and the bassists masterfully connect the factions. The middle tune, 'Apparitions', has it all - it's a fine driving 'classic' free jazz tune, complete with saxophone screams and everyone following their muses while still staying connected. The entirety of side-b is the track 'The Wrong Record' and it begins with Dikeman delivering a flurry of notes and utilizing some extended techniques. Meanwhile, Bishop is just a tiny bit more restrained, pushing the envelope without tearing it entirely.

Double Trio is a strong recording and definitely worth a listen. If you're into tapes you can try to get a copy (they're running low, I think) or look for it digitally on iTunes, Amazon, etc.