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A Fireside Chat with Paul Dunmall

By Published: November 29, 2003

PD: I was fortunate enough to do because I was fifty the other week, I was fortunate enough to do my fifteen piece big band, which I was lucky to do. The BBC funded that. Hopefully Cuneiform will put that out at some point. There is a few things I have recorded for my own label. I've just done a trio with two guitar players, Phil (Gibbs) and John Adams. A quartet has just come out with Neil Metcalfe on flute and Paul on bass and me and Phil. There's one with a classical player, Andrew Ball and Hilary Jeffreys on trombone. There is quite a lot really. There must be half a dozen recordings waiting to be sorted out and even more in the pipeline.

FJ: Is the big band the same personnel as The Great Divide?

PD: Yeah, it is similar. It is not exactly the same, although it is a similar kind of thing. I used it as a vehicle for me to get up and play on top of a big band. I also used it like Mujician, which was the quartet that we worked with for so long and the trio with John Adams and Mark Sanders. We've done a lot of things together. There is lot of connections, lots of threads. Getting Phil Gibbs involved and all the horn players that I have worked with. It was kind of a celebration of fifty. I've made it this far and an opportunity that doesn't come up often to actually do a big band. So it was kind of like The Great Divide double octet, but it was a bit more written than that. This is very rare. This is not a regular occurrence. This is the first time I have had enough money to do a project like that. I don't know whether it will happen again. It is so expensive to do that. I didn't have enough time really. I rehearsed in a day and then we recorded it. I keep that in mind when I write the stuff that I know that we don't have a lot of time. You are on a shoestring and you have hours to put a big band together. I think the way I wrote the piece, it worked very well all things considered. I am very happy with the results.

FJ: And the trio with Mark Saunders and John Adams is ongoing?

PD: It is still going. We are going to do another recording this year. That works very well and it has been a bit neglected, but I am definitely going to get that happening again. We're going to try and resurrect it a bit because it was a great trio. I really love playing in that band.

FJ: How many Mujician recordings are available?

PD: Well, I've got about sixty recordings, maybe more. There are more, in fact. I haven't got them all because a lot of the concerts were recorded. So there are a lot of live gigs that were recorded and we just done one for Paris radio. I am not sure if that's been broadcast or not. There is tons of stuff there and we've put five albums, five studio albums on Cuneiform. We've got a lot of live stuff, dare I say, possibly better. It is just what they are. There are some fantastic live gigs.

FJ: Any interest expressed in perhaps a box set?

PD: We did think about that. I have spoken to a couple of people about this. It is a bit of a headache to organize it and it is going to cost a hell of a lot of money to do a box set. For a record company to do it properly, it is a big commitment, but the music is there. We haven't really pursued it.

FJ: And tour dates on the West Coast or Chicago?

PD: Chicago has been talked about and it has been talked about for a couple of years now. I live near a place called Birmingham and it is twins with Chicago and the guy who runs the Birmingham Jazz Festival wanted to get the Octet to Chicago, but they couldn't afford it, then it was going to be a quartet, then it was going to be with me and Paul, then it was going to be me, solo. Now, it has ended up nothing. Ken Vandermark said that anytime I want to go out there, he can give us a few gigs and what have you, but the trouble is getting the airfare. I have had a few offers for the West Coast as well, but the airfare to get out there. It is a bit of a headache, but I am optimistic. I think we will get out there at some point. I would love to get out there. I lived out there for a while from '73-'76. I lived out in California. I lived in Venice (laughing). It was great. It was brilliant. I enjoyed myself. I haven't gone back since I lived there in 1976, so that would be quite a trip down memory lane. One other option is getting to Vancouver and getting the British Council to pay our flights down there and then we can come down into the West Coast. That is a possibility. That is something we are going to try and work on. I reckon we can easily get a week's work. It is knocking that airfare out. The British Council would pay for that if we went to the Vancouver Festival. It has been talked about. I just hope that we get the chance to do it.

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