A Fireside Chat with Paul Dunmall
Born of the working class, Uker Paul Dunmall, like many of the Euros who are progressing improvised music, is well versed. Musically, ideologically, and instrumentally, Dunmall may seem avant-garde, but that is conventional paranoia. A member of the London Jazz Composers Orchestra and a founding member of the improv collective power group, Mujician, Dunmall, again like many of his Euro counterparts, has a wealthy discography that will stimulate the mind as much as it will subtract the bank account. Of late, Dunmall has been releasing quite a bit of music on his own DUNS label, an audible newsletter for his fans and continues to redo and undo what I think and think I know about this music. Dunmall sat down with the show on a recent East Coast tour with familiar partner in crime Paul Rogers and American Kevin Norton. As always, I bring our conversation to you, commercial free and uninterrupted, and before I forget, unedited and in his own words.
Fred Jung: Mujician plus Roswell Rudd has been in my CD player of late.
Paul Dunmall: Was that Bladik with Keith Tippett and Roswell Rudd? Yeah, Paul (Rogers), and Tony Levin. We did a gig. Roswell came to London and Elton suggested it and we did it with Mujician. Basically, we did one gig and then we did the recording session. It was great. It was really good and then Roswell went back to the States. It wasn't like an ongoing group or anything. It was just kind of one of those session things. It was great. It was really good. You got some good musicians there, so something was bound to happen.
FJ: And a duo session between you and Paul on your own DUNS label, Ja ja spoon.
PD: Oh, yeah, Ja ja spoon, fantastic. We've just another one, which I think Emanem is going to put out for us. That should be coming out in the next six months. We only just recorded it in March. I gave the masters to Martin (Davidson) a couple of days ago, in fact.
FJ: Does it feature your bagpipes?
PD: Yeah, we did three tracks, one with bagpipes, one with soprano, and one with tenor.
FJ: I'm a pushover for the bagpipes.
PD: You've got to work on it for quite a while. The fingers are different and so you do have to work on it. It took me quite a while because I started on the Northumbrian pipes, which is very, very different because that is all done with the fingers closed down. When you play that, you just lift one finger, whereas the tenor saxophone, all your fingers are off, basically, and you just push the button that you want.
FJ: And Ja ja spoon and other DUN releases feature your paintings as well.
PD: Yeah, it is just an outlet for me to do a bit of that. It is just another thing. It is just trying to be creative. It is coming from the same space because I hadn't really studied it like I had music. It is something that is very pleasurable, very enjoyable to do. I do a lot and then I pick what I like, what works. I actually think the Ja ja spoon is a good one. I was quite happy with that myself.
FJ: You have collaborated with Paul and Tony on so many occasions, it must be old hat by now.
PD: For sure, me and Paul were talking about it earlier. We have been playing for twenty-three years at least. The thing that we have, and the same with Tony, is that we don't have to worry. I don't have to think about anything. I could just play whatever I want and that would be fine, just like Paul does whatever he wants and it's going to happen. It is not like playing with someone new. You can really go deep with it. I suppose if you have been playing with someone for twenty-three years, something must be going on. Long may it continue.
FJ: How is DUNS doing?
PD: Fantastic. I'm not selling hundreds of copies. I don't print that many, but as a musical outlet for me, it is one of the best things that I have ever done. I can do a recording once a month and put something out. It is great. It is like a newsletter. That is what I am doing right now.
FJ: You are in the midst of a Eastern tour, how has it been?
PD: I came three years ago. I just did one festival and I left and then me and Paul came to do a duet last year. That was more revealing. I found the audiences fantastic actually. I don't know whether it is because the grass is always greener. They never see me and Paul play very much over here, whereas in Europe, we play a fair bit over there and so they see us a lot. But I found the openness of the people fantastic. They were really keen on the music and very supportive.
FJ: And the future?