Monday, January 30, 2017

Paul Dunmall, an Introduction

On the occasion of a week of reviews dedicated to British saxophonist Paul Dunmall, Bruce Lee Gallanter, proprietor of the Downtown Music Gallery, provides a personal introduction ...

Photo by Peter Gannushkin

Ever since I heard UK sax colossus Paul Dunmall with Keith Tippett’s Mujician quartet, I knew that there was something special, spiritual about his (tenor) sax playing. Nobody has a sound like him, he is in a class of his own! Keith Tippett has long been my favorite pianist and selecting Paul as a member of Mujician (1990- 2010) was indeed an honor. I had heard of Paul before this since he was a peripheral member of the Canterbury Scene, having worked with Elton Dean, Evan Parker and Robin Williamson, but wasn’t to hear him at length until Mujician appeared. I had the great opportunity to hear Mujician live at the Victoriaville Festival, the performance reminding me of the John Coltrane quartet of the early sixties. The same instrumentation and the same fire-breathing intensity and spirit.

Besides being a master tenor saxist, Paul also plays bagpipes, soprano sax, saxello, flute and wind synthesizer, actually anything he can get his hands on. Thanks to a number of great labels like FMR (50 CD box set), Slam, Emanem and Cuneiform, as well as his own self-produced CD-R label, Duns, Paul can be heard on upwards of 200 CDs. No matter what instrument that Paul plays, he is able to work wonders. The majority of discs that have appeared under his own name are improv sessions featuring a large cast of greats: Evan Parker, Hamid Drake, Alex Von Schlippenbach, William Parker, Tony Malaby and so many others. There are a handful of great musicians that Dunmall has developed an evolving musical relationship with over many years: Paul Rogers (custom made 7-string bass), Mark Sanders (drums) and Trevor Taylor (electronic & acoustic percussion). Ever since starting his own limited edition (of around 50) CD-R labels, Duns, Paul has gone out of his way to discover many new, mostly British players and that list keeps growing every year: Bruce Coates, Percy Pursglove, Matthew Bourne and Olie Brice, to name but a few. Since Paul ended the Duns label a few years back with number 65, the FMR and Slam labels have picked up the slack with occasional releases on ESP, Porter and Clean Feed. As of 2006, when Manny Maris and myself curated a month at The Stone in December of that year, I have helped get Paul get gigs at The Stone, the Vision Festival (twice) and the Living Theatre, as well as a playing great duo with Matt Welch on bagpipes at DMG when we were on the Bowery. The last time I spoke with Paul at Cafe Oto in London a couple of years ago, he said that he might not make back to US anytime soon due the hassles and costs of flying over here. In the meantime, I look forward to each and every disc on which he appears since his playing remains consistently inspired, creative and is often filled with those cosmic spirits.

- Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery, January 12th, 2017

2 comments:

  1. Indeed, you nailed it Bruce. Paul is one of the best improvisational musicians around. He is a master on his wind instruments and he is well respected by his peers who enjoy playing with him. The music on his CD's is always made with an honest and deep felt spirituality. Any self respecting enthousiast of this kind of music should buy his music to let him continue his musical quest.

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