Philip Gibbs / Paul Dunmall / Tony Hymas / Paul Rogers / Neil Metcalfe / Tony Levin: Mumuksuta (2010)
With over 60 releases by the end of 2010 on his own Duns Limited Edition label, reedman Paul Dunmall has been trying to slow down. That yet another new issue turns up regardless is testament to the quality contained therein. Derived from yoga teachings, the title Mumuksuta translates as a burning desire to realize the Self within. While it's hard to say whether the participants have succeeded in freeing themselves of earthly desires, they certainly manage to perform without ego. Such liberation manifests itself musically as a freedom from preconceived structure, achieved through disciplined restraint. Alongside Dunmall ranges a cast of frequent collaborators, whose familiarity begets a purposeful collective genesis.
"Yearning for freedom" functions as a welcome; an introduction to the overall approach, passing in a softly swirling, dreamy rubato, with six instruments interweaving into a tapestry. There is no dominant voice. Tony Hymas' rippling piano, Dunmall's husky tenor, Paul Rogers' sweeping arco bass, and Neil Metcalfe's spiraling flute settle upon a natural rhythm like breathing. They avoid getting in each other's way and there is space for everyone. It's like a volcano that murmurs but never quite erupts.
Other tracks are more angular. "Desire to free oneself" radiates pentup nervous energy, opening with fractious outbursts from Tony Levin's drumkit amid the seething lines. In fact, the drummer's decision whether to listen or to play is one of the main determinants of mood. He opts for the former about half the time, leading to a more static chamber music feel in those pieces. At times, the ensemble opens to reveal notable passages featuring particular combinations. Dunmall's insistent probing tenor saxophone pitched first against Hymas' surging piano, then Philip Gibbs' skittering guitar picking on "Desire to free oneself" sticks in the mind, before they are subsumed into the group interplay. Hymas and Rogers share a wonderful quicksilver duet on the freewheeling "One's true nature," while Dunmall's bass clarinet and Rogers' deep arco engage in a pleasingly woody colloquy at the start of "From all bondages."
Even though the reedman's discography is bursting at the seams, this 60-minute live recording is a worthy addition.
Track Listing: Yearning for freedom; Desire to free oneself; One's true nature; From all bondages.
Personnel: Philip Gibbs: guitar; Paul Dunmall: tenor and soprano saxophone, Bb and bass clarinet; Tony Hymas: piano; Paul Rogers: 7 string bass; Neil Metcalfe: flute; Tony Levin: drums.