Dave Ballou: Volition
The opening “Antonio and Angelica” acts as a fanfare for what follows over the next hour. Ballou tells his stories in bursts of energy, creating the narrative as he goes along, but giving it such a reasoned logic that you wonder if he didn’t just pre-plan the entire performance. With a much more open sound than is the norm, Ballou switches to flugelhorn on “Wish’s” and “Skeptical,” also throwing in a mute for Monk’s “Light Blue.” His own tribute to Tim Hagans, “Snagahmit” (spell it backwards to get the joke) bristles with a passion and brassy sparkle that marks the other side of Ballou’s personality.
As for the other members of the team, bassist Cameron Brown’s big sound (remember him as a charter member of the Pullen-Adams Quartet in the ‘80s?) gives this obviously lean ensemble a beefy resonance. Drummer Jeff Williams is never flashy, but tailors his accompaniment to Ballou’s angular statements, impressively so on the duo’s reading of Coltrane’s “26-2.” While certainly not the type of disc for the faint-hearted, Volition will undoubtedly reward more exploratory listeners and the throngs of Dave Douglas devotees will positively eat this stuff up.
Track Listing: Antonio and Angelica, Wish
Personnel: Dave Ballou- trumpet & flugelhorn, Cameron Brown- bass, Jeff Williams- drums
Record Label: SteepleChase Records