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Henry Grimes, Paul Dunmall & Andrew Cyrille: The Profound Sound Trio at the Vortex, London

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The Profound Sound Trio: Henry Grimes, Paul Dunmall & Andrew Cyrille
The Vortex
London, England
November 23, 2009


A buzz of anticipation gripped a full house at the Vortex for the London debut of the Profound Sound Trio—a collective of British reedman Paul Dunmall

Paul Dunmall
Paul Dunmall
b.1953
saxophone
and a heavyweight rhythm section of Andrew Cyrille
Andrew Cyrille
Andrew Cyrille
b.1939
drums
on drums and Henry Grimes
Henry Grimes
Henry Grimes
b.1935
bass, acoustic
on bass. Their genesis as a trio came in 2006 when Grimes traveled to England and linked up with Dunmall on the recommendation of sometime AAJ writer, Marc Medwin. Upon recognising kindred spirits, they extended their collaboration, adding Cyrille for an appearance at New York City's prestigious Vision Festival in 2008. Such was the success of that occasion that it spawned the release of the concert recording as Opus de Life (Porter Records, 2008) and a subsequent appearance later that year at the Cheltenham Festival. In recognition that further exploration of the fertile possibilities inherent in the collective was merited, Birmingham Jazz organized a UK tour of which this was the third night of seven.

Each constituent part of the trio is a master in his own right. A regular fixture at the Vortex, Dunmall is rightly recognized as one the top European reed players, with a burgeoning global reputation. Notwithstanding youthful stints with Alice Coltrane

Alice Coltrane
Alice Coltrane
1937 - 2007
piano
and [[Johnny "Guitar" Watson}} the reedman first came to prominence as part of Barry Guy
Barry Guy
Barry Guy
b.1947
bass
's London Jazz Composers Orchestra and the improvising collective Mujician, alongside pianist Keith Tippett
Keith Tippett
Keith Tippett
b.1947
piano
. But he also pushes himself in a bewildering variety of settings, many of them documented on his own Duns Limited Edition label, and he can be heard on over 130 releases.

Cyrille is among the very cream of free jazz percussionists, having worked with a stellar range of jazz artists including Muhal Richard Abrams

Muhal Richard Abrams
Muhal Richard Abrams
b.1930
piano
, Coleman Hawkins
Coleman Hawkins
Coleman Hawkins
1904 - 1969
sax, tenor
, David Murray
David Murray
David Murray
b.1955
sax, tenor
, Mal Waldron
Mal Waldron
Mal Waldron
1926 - 2002
piano
and Mary Lou Williams
Mary Lou Williams
Mary Lou Williams
1910 - 1981
piano
. Best known for his 11-year tenure with Cecil Taylor
Cecil Taylor
Cecil Taylor
b.1929
piano
from 1964, the drummer also organized several percussion ensembles like Dialogue of the Drums and Pieces of Time thereafter. Currently a faculty member of the New School University in his home town of New York City, Cyrille is also active with another great collective, TRIO 3 (lake/workman/cyrille) with Oliver Lake
Oliver Lake
Oliver Lake
b.1942
saxophone
and Reggie Workman
Reggie Workman
Reggie Workman
b.1937
bass
, touring with them as recently as October.





Grimes has been making up for lost time following his legendary return to music in 2003, following a 35-year hiatus. Before vanishing from sight he had been bassist of choice for a veritable who's who of talent including Albert Ayler

Albert Ayler
Albert Ayler
1936 - 1970
sax, tenor
, Don Cherry
Don Cherry
Don Cherry
1936 - 1995
trumpet
, Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
b.1930
saxophone
and Cecil Taylor. Since, his active touring schedule has seen countless collaborations with all the present day free jazz aristocracy including William Parker
William Parker
William Parker
b.1952
bass, acoustic
, Rashied Ali
Rashied Ali
Rashied Ali
1935 - 2009
drums
, Marshall Allen
Marshall Allen
Marshall Allen
b.1924
sax, alto
, and Kidd Jordan
Kidd Jordan
Kidd Jordan
b.1935
saxophone
.

But while the individual parts are top notch, it is the quality of their interactions which sets the Profound Sound Trio apart. In a departure from the normal Vortex format, tonight's performance consisted of one long set rather than two shorter ones. Consequently the audience was treated to some 80 unbroken minutes of free jazz heaven, including a ten-minute encore. While not so urgently raw as their inaugural gig at the Vision Festival, a longer time in each other's company has allowed them to develop a real rapport, and the same abiding characteristic still holds true: cohesive extended structures fashioned in the moment, a testament to their years of experience and deep listening skills.

A measured start set the template for the whole concert. First Grimes fired several bursts of throbbing pizzicato bass, then stopped. Cyrille and Dunmall responded with a brief, considered duet before giving way to Grimes again. The bassist held forth once more, then yielded for some Coltranesque tenor saxophone from Dunmall, followed by a clattering percussive statement from Cyrille. Gradually all three began to inhabit the same space and without warning were suddenly in full spate.

At first Dunmall sprayed filigrees of melody over a buoyant pulsing rhythm, but before long the reedman started to run his sentences together, with a hint of a shriek followed by more melodic exposition in a wonderful solo full of expression, invention and color. Bending at the knees, he repeated an ascending figure and veered into Coltrane-testifying rapturous territory. It was a volcanic outpouring and an opening statement of great power. That introductory promise was more than fulfilled by what followed.


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