In all likelihood, there is no need to remind readers of these pages that multi-instrumentalist Paul Dunmall's relationships with drummer Tony Bianco and with Trevor Taylor's FMR label have been long and extremely prolific. On this most recent collaboration, Dunmall swerves in and out of late John Coltrane mode. This assessment deserves a bit of explanation, even justification. When I first interviewed Dunmall in 2004, I heard Coltrane in almost everything he did. This conclusion seemed less and less plausible as the years went by, multiple influences seeming to come to the fore at lightning speed every time a new Dunmall release crossed my desk. This new one made me reconsider yet again.
It isn't so much that Dunmall shares Coltrane's sound, or at least not all the time. Those late-period Coltrane melodic atoms do come into play, as they have since his first solo efforts in the late 1980s, but they are in the service of an increasing fluidity in which blistering bebop runs also play an important role. If late Trane is post-modern, Dunmall has absorbed that particular aesthetic and made a language out of it. He navigates with ease between those little motives and something approaching the post-Bird flights of Sam Rivers, simply the closest point of comparison I can find. Then there are those elements that are all his own, like his vibrato. Listen to the way he opens the second track, a deeply rich vibrato that changes in speed in intensity as Dunmall traverses the registers, an attribute more usually heard in a string player's vocabulary.
Dunmall's fluidity of run, scale and arpeggio is mirrored in Bianco's effortless drumming. Taylor gives his a wide stereo mix, the snare simultaneously center and way off to the right, leaving room stage left for the sizzling cymbals. It is as if his multidirectional rhythms are surrounding Dunmall in physical space, which is, of course, exactly what is happening musically. This is music of varied intensity, raw power and the deepest feeling, illustrating that the lessons of a masterpiece such as Interstellar Space have been learned and expanded upon. Fans of both musicians know what they're getting, and this would be a fantastic place for anyone interested but heretofore hesitant to dive in!
Comments and Feedback: