When Paul Dunmall turned fifty in 2003, the BBC stepped in with the gift of a recording with his big band. Dunmall takes his bandmates from Mujician, Keith Tippett, Tony Levin, and Paul Rogers, and he expands the rhythm section and the front line. The result is an exhilarating album that gets its adrenaline from the three distinct parts that Dunmall spins into one compelling tale.
A drone rises to greet the tenor saxophone of Dunmall on "Part I." The horn explores. What direction will it take? The twists and turns offer no indication, but attention is nailed. The assembly of horns come in and provides a lush backdrop. Dunmall only gets more acerbic and intense, setting up the play for a hail of sound that cartwheels and tumbles. And as the notes fall in their magnifying fervency, the freedom in expression that bloods jazz is strikingly manifested.
Gentle squeaks and squalls may open "Part II," but they sound only to deceive. The music is melodic, and it swings! Limbering in are the horns that converse engagingly with each other and with the piano. And then there are those brief but luminescent solos, including one between Gethin Liddington on trumpet and Tippett on piano that lends the final lustre, plus the bite that snips and soars from the horn of plenty that characterizes Dunmall.
Comes the final part and Paul Rogers lets the arco do the talking through shifts in time and emphasis, the guitars jingle and chime, and Dunmall comes in on the soprano for some squiggles that are tempered by the piano of Tippett. But one can hear the swell coming as Dunmall picks up the tenor, his voicing sturdy, a firm bolt against the waft of the others who come in and have a brief say. But all the while they add to the essence, and the mass becomes more pronounced before the eruption, a resplendent hallelujah and the final testimony to all that has been so magnificently created.
Personnel: Paul Dunmall: tenor and soprano saxophones; Gethin Liddington: trumpet; Simon Picard: tenor
saxophone; Paul Rutherford: trombone; Chris Bridges: trombone; Paul Rogers: bass; Tony Levin: drums;
Mark Sanders: drums; Brian Irvine: conductor; Hilary Jeffery: trombone; Keith Tippett: piano; John
Adams: guitar; Howard Cottle: tenor saxophone; Philip Gibbs: guitar, autoharp; David Priseman: