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Live Reviews

The Paul Dunmall Trio at the Vortex, London

By Published: July 16, 2009

Cohesive group interplay predominated in an absorbing journey evincing a shared sense of purpose which eschewed the string-of-solos syndrome. Thrilling moments included a piercing passage for clarinet, intertwining with arco harmonics over rumbling drums. Later in the second set, Marsh introduced a repeated pattern on cymbal, attenuated with his hand, punctuated by tenor gasps and burps over Stephen's insistent pizzicato. After one bass solo, Dunmall and Marsh rejoined in perfect unison. Dunmall spat out on short tenor phrases, and working from these foundations, they erected an edifice of fiery emotionally charged interplay which summed up the group's approach.

Each musician needed good ears to thrive in this rarefied atmosphere—and deep listening and selfless interaction typified the whole trio as exemplified by the conclusion of the first set. As Marsh and Stephens pursued another joint adventure, Dunmall stood poised, gently swaying while he listened for his entrance. Eyes closed, he interjected thick muscular tenor lines over throbbing bass and whirlwind drums. As Stephens frantically plucked, he glanced at Dunmall with a big smile before launching a sequence of vibrant double stops that signaled a gradual subsidence into silence, and left all three breathless and glowing.

While this trio may not garner the same attention as some of Dunmall's other outings, given festival opportunities they would prove the equal of the higher profile groupings.

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