“BeBop Starburst” is the 2nd release by the brilliant British saxophonist Paul Dunmall and his Octet. All constituents of the extraordinary free jazz band Mujician (see February 1999 Modern Jazz Reviews) appear on this project; however, this is not Mujician plus “4” as some might expect. “BeBop Starburst” aggressively takes on its own identity from the onset.
Dunmall, co-founder and member of the critically acclaimed band Mujician maintains the patented swift pace and “free-style” approach yet explores crafty and fertile brass arrangements with this adventurous and captivating effort on the Cuneiform label. Produced by the legendary Free-Jazz pioneer Evan Parker, Dunmall summons his Be-Bop roots with a vengeance. Here, the Paul Dunmall Octet move forward with a 5 part series of works that stretch Be-Bop to its imaginary boundaries. “Part I” commences with a brief but instantaneous onslaught of difficult unison Bop inspired charts. Charlie Parker would be proud of these folks. Just when you get comfortable and the mind focuses on Bop, a transition ensues. In with the old and in with the new? Yes, Dunmall and associates explore the best of both worlds. The approach is fresh and the attained results prove to be extremely rewarding. “Part II” sets the stage for a sonorous blend of traditional Be-Bop charts and modern free-s! tyle execution. The Octet deconstruct and reassemble fragments of rapid paced Be-Bop motifs. The twin trombone section consisting of newcomer Chris Bridges and veteran Annie Whitehead add to the muscular backbone along with the world-beating rhythm section of Paul Rogers (b) and Tony Levin (d). Pianist Keith Tippett contributes mightily with seasoned technical expertise and improvisational savvy, not to mention frequent whimsical endeavors. Again, as with Mujician, Tippett proves to be an indispensable force. The viscous Brass section charts twist notions of Be-Bop to various extremes. The Brass parts are structured although; there are generous doses of improvisation, shifting patterns and breathing room for the soloist’s. Everyone is in top form throughout! Dunmall launches into some trademark rapid-fire attacks on Tenor Sax while Simon Picard combines strong melody lines with lyrical phrasing and sensitive thematic statements, which add to the already rich tonal balanc! e of the composition. What we encounter thus far are logical extensions of Be-Bop in an unconventional manner. It’s all daring, adventurous and well stated yet it is not all about crash and burn, there are sublime moments as witnessed in Part IV. The brief closer, Part V is a soft straight-ahead swing tune, which puts matters in perspective as if it were a closing thought or proclamation.
The New Year is off to a rousing start in the modern jazz world with the advent of this mini-masterpiece. “BeBop Starburst” effectively illustrates the boundless concepts that could be derived from Be-Bop as a musical art form. The Dunmall Octet could have unknowingly set the stage for a new slant on convention; consequently, Be-Bop acquires new connotations here. Highly Recommended!
Paul Dunmall; Tenor Sax: Simon Picard; Tenor Sax: Annie Whitehead; Trombone: Chris Bridges; Trombone: Gethin Liddington; Trumpet: Keith Tippett; Piano: Paul Rogers; Bass: Tony Levin; Drums.