Bruce Ditmas: What If
On What If Ditmas slashes and burns while boasting a booming, resonant sound as he provides the thunderous intro for pianist Paul Bley on the opener, “Island Seven”. Here and throughout, Ditmas engages complex polyrhythms in effortless fashion as he provides the enormous pulse behind Abercrombie’s angular and somewhat ferocious attack, which rekindles memories of his now classic ECM release, “Timeless”. The title track, “What If” is electrically charged and proceeds at a feverish pace as the great Sam Rivers’ sinewy and explosive tenor sax work along with the forceful rhythms and turbo charged interplay among the bandmates offers something which borders fusion and modern jazz. Paul Bley stretches out in elegant fashion on “Clever Conversations” while Ditmas and Richards employ a relentless rhythmic assault. Unadulterated intensity provided by Abercrombie’s signature and somewhat manic guitar stylizations along with the muscular rhythmic assault are prevalent factors on the barnburner titled, “Pulp”. On “Power Surge”, the heat continues while “Don’t Wake Up” is ethereal and dreamy thanks to Bley’s colorful and textural articulations on synthesizer along with his pensive or somewhat dirge-like acoustic piano work. A fitting finale to an unyielding and explosive affair!
Upon its original release, What If received critical praise and accolades and justifiably so as it becomes rather obvious from the onset that Ditmas was geared up for this date. What If offers a potpourri of modern/free-jazz, fusion and takes off into the stratosphere to some unknown destination, as the men only know one way, which is straight ahead with no looking back. * * * * ½
Bruce Ditmas; Drums: John Abercrombie; Guitars: Paul Bley; Piano & Synthesizers: Dominic Richards; Bass: Sam Rivers; Tenor & Soprano Saxophone.
Record Label: Postcards