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Jimmy Halperin/ Dominic Duval/ Brian Willson: The Music of John Coltrane (2010)

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Jimmy Halperin/ Dominic Duval/ Brian Willson: The Music of John Coltrane How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Why would modern improvisers want to create a session around music over 50 years old? That's the question the pairing of bassist Dominic Duval
Dominic Duval
Dominic Duval
b.1945
bass
and saxophonist Jimmy Halperin look to answer over the 68-minute program of The Music of John Coltrane. Having already delved into the Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
piano
songbook on Monkinus (CIMP, 2006) and Monk Dreams (No Business, 2009), the duo this time has drummer Brian Willson along for the ride, and an honest, engaging and enjoyable ride it is too.

Duval numbers some heavyweight assignations on his dance card, with ten years spent in the company of piano iconoclast Cecil Taylor
Cecil Taylor
Cecil Taylor
b.1929
piano
, and an ongoing stake in Trio X, with multi instrumentalist Joe McPhee
Joe McPhee
Joe McPhee
b.1939
reeds
. With drummer/composer/educator Willson, he has also fuelled the flights of saxophonist Ivo Perelman
Ivo Perelman
Ivo Perelman
b.1961
saxophone
on Mind Games (Leo, 2009). Halperin is a less combustible commodity than the Brazilian, but study with the legendary pianist Lennie Tristano
Lennie Tristano
Lennie Tristano
1919 - 1978
piano
and tenor saxophonist Warne Marsh
Warne Marsh
Warne Marsh
1927 - 1987
sax, tenor
bespeaks a sophisticated harmonic conception.

Compared to Monk, Trane is almost unfashionable these days, but the trio stretches out on a selection of the master's middle and late period tunes, featuring one from Blue Train (Blue Note, 1958), three from Giant Steps (Atlantic, 1959), one from the classic A Love Supreme (Impulse!, 1965) and the title track from the posthumously released Living Space (Impulse!, 1998). Familiar themes are played straight—reverentially, even, at times. But that is where the homage stops. Having launched, the threesome makes no attempt to stay within the compositional confines, instead indulging in a flowering colloquy.

Halperin plays with a sweet airy tone, only rarely pushing to the extremes of his horn. At times, the reedman's singing lines recall Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
b.1930
saxophone
rather than Trane, but the composer's influence exerts its pull on "Living Space" and "Syeeda's Song Flute," particularly on the rubato upper register passages. As is his norm, although Duval provides a rhythmic substructure it is augmented by a stream of contrapuntal melody, against which the others push or follow as the moment dictates. In fact both the bassist and Willson—who delivers his polyrhythms with a light touch—allow sufficient freedom that the saxophonist is free to choose whatever direction he wishes.

One of the highlights comes in "Naima," where Duval and Halperin partake in inspired dialogue, the saxophonist's rapid fire runs nimbly echoed by the bassist. Halperin's cadenza of restrained but emotive multiphonic cries towards the end of "Moments Notice" also stick in the mind. Overall, the date has a relaxed feel, as if these pieces have been so well absorbed that they don't need charts. And that's perhaps the answer to the opening question: they play these tunes because they enjoy them, and their associations as starting points for their own invention.

Track Listing: Giant Steps; Moments Notice; Living Space; Syeeda's Song Flute; Naima; Pursuance/from a Love Supreme.

Personnel: Jimmy Halperin: tenor saxophone; Dominic Duval: bass; Brian Willson: drums.

Record Label: NoBusiness Records

Style: Modern Jazz


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