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Artist Profiles

Paul Dunmall

By Published: December 14, 2006
Though Dunmall has had international exposure through Mujician and the Cuneiform albums, as a bandleader on SLAM Productions, playing solo on several FMR discs or as part of the ensembles of Barry Guy or the late Elton Dean, Dunmall feels very strongly about being in control of his own music. To that end, in 1999, Dunmall founded DUNS Limited Editions. The first release was a solo bagpipes album. Dunmall recalls he "sent it to a couple of record labels and I almost burst out laughing, thought I must be joking and I thought I'm not joking, this is something I really want to do. Maybe many people aren't interested in improvised bagpipes but on the other hand I want it documented and I want it released. I don't care if nobody buys it. I'm going to release it.

The initial run was less than 100 copies and sold well enough to allow Dunmall to "put out whatever I like without asking anybody's permission or whether they like it or not and not only that, because I only make small amounts, I can put one out every month, every six weeks which is really I wanted to do, rather than putting an album out with a big label, my one album every two years or once a year that I'm precious about and in the end I don't like it.

DUNS Limited Editions, as stated in the liner notes of one of the discs, functions very much as a newsletter, allowing interested listeners immediate access to what Dunmall and a small group of musicians are doing at a particular point in time. What it is not is a label modeled after famous European musician-run imprints like FMP or Ogun or Incus. "I've said to all my friends, just so they so understood, I'd love to put all your guys' music out but unless I'm on it, I can't, Dunmall bemoans. "I am always saying to the guys, it's easy, do it yourself. It's one of the best things I've ever done. People complain that it swamps the market with stuff but I disagree. I think it's taking the power away from all these big record labels that used to tell you whether you were any good or not. Everybody now has a chance to present their music. It's up to the public. They buy it or not, that's their decision.

Dunmall has now played professionally for over 35 years, a period still only slightly half of the lifespan of free improvisation. And much like that genre still struggles for recognition, Dunmall is too often not afforded his own identity and the respect that comes with it. "One thing that always got to me, he says, "was I was always sounding like every saxophonist you've ever heard. And I don't know whether that's a compliment or not. I can't figure out whether I'm doing something wrong or I'm doing something right. I know I've made it when people start saying that they sound like me.

Selected Discography

Mujician, There's No Going Back Now (Cuneiform, 2005) Paul Dunmall, Solo Soprano Saxophone (FMR, 2005)

Alex von Schlippenbach/Paul Dunmall/Paul Rogers/Tony Bianco, Vesuvius (SLAM, 2004)

Paul Dunmall/Paul Rogers, Awareness Response (Emanem, 2003)

Paul Dunmall/Paul Rogers/Kevin Norton, Rylickolum: For Your Pleasure (CIMP, 2003)

Mujician, Spacetime (Cuneiform, 2001)

Photo Credit:
Frank Rubolino

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