How often is it that we get to hear Paul Dunmall play the blues? On the aptly titled "T.M.," that's exactly what happens; his 1970s experiences with Johnny Guitar Watson stand him in good stead, and I should not have been surprised to drink deeply of the strong and well-mixed dose of taste and soul pouring out of my speakers. However, as with everything the prolific multi-instrumentalist releases, there's a lot more constituting the equation.
These trio recordings took place in 2007 and 2010, and they document Dunmall's longstanding relationships with bassist John Edwards and the late and much missed drummer Tony Marsh. My one quibble involves the live Vortex recording that comprises the title track. It's slightly distorted, and while it packs a powerful wallop, I wish punch had been allowed to give way to nuance and richness of detail. That said, the passage nearly three minutes into the track where Dunmall and Edwards circle around a D, droning as he and Henry Grimes had done on the Profound Sound Trio disc of several years ago, is all the more powerful because of the recorded sound. The trio glides in and out of all manner of topoi, from the staggering linear interplay for which they're often justly lauded to a kind of popcorn pointillism, a rapid-fire dialogue of direct and atomistic beauty where Edwards and Dunmall deftly weave detached tones into Marsh's examination and reexamination of pulse. All get solo time, Edwards' arco being particularly fine that evening, and there's plenty of room for duo exploration as well. Listen to Edwards and Marsh in heated dialogue about half way through the track to get an idea of how inventive, reliable and inventive a rhythm section this is.
Dunmall's playing exhibits any and all of the traits we've come to appreciate; the long lines are there, the complex harmonies implied by every gesture, and flawlessly fluent playing in whichever register he chooses. Some of my favorite material here is a duo with Marsh that closes the album, where Dunmall's luscious soprano swoops and slides through the registers, and where Marsh's multi-timbral and multidirectional phrases provide a constant backdrop to some of Dunmall's pentatonic motives, one of the few times the he actually sounds so much like John Coltrane. This is another of the many excellent Dunmall releases on FMR, and if you've never explored these three musicians' work, what are you waiting for?
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