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Chris Dingman: Waking Dreams (2011)

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Chris Dingman: Waking Dreams How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Many jazz releases suffer from the same old "song and dance" syndrome—a couple of obligatory ballads (song narrative) sprinkled between numbers of up-tempo (dance) tracks. This repeated programming can get old very fast. But this is not the case with Waking Dreams , the long overdue and brilliant debut by vibraphonist Chris Dingman.

Emerging as a stylist with a pliable touch and warm presence, Dingman carries the deep tradition of patriarchs (Milt Jackson
Milt Jackson
Milt Jackson
1923 - 1999
vibraphone
) and vibrant contemporaries (Stefon Harris
Stefon Harris
Stefon Harris
b.1973
vibraphone
). He is cut from the same mold as the prodigious peers who contribute to the recording—saxophonist Steve Lehman
Steve Lehman
Steve Lehman

sax, alto
and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire
Ambrose Akinmusire
Ambrose Akinmusire
b.1982
trumpet
among others—young thinkers who have expressed their own visions of modern jazz. With verdant ideas taken literally from the vibraphonist's REM sleep, the atmospheric set is beautifully rendered and thoroughly accessible.

The music reflects the vibraphonist's tonality—graceful, calculating, and inquisitive. A theme runs through the program as interpreted by a group of rising stars. The onset is cerebral in "Vijayanagara," as Akinmusire and alto saxophonist Loren Stillman
Loren Stillman
Loren Stillman
b.1980
sax, alto
meander peacefully through the fugue-like melody. But the vibe shifts harder with "Jet Lag," one of the release's more groove-oriented pieces, marked by Joe Sanders
Joe Sanders
Joe Sanders
b.1896
bass
's power bass, drummer Justin Brown's tempestuous rhythms, and erratic solo flights, only to end with Dingman's sweeping volume swells.

The tracks are vignettes of imagination. There's sadness and allurement in "Manhattan Bridge," and austere refinement in "Same Coin" colored by strokes of flute and clarinet and a lovely spot by pianist Fabian Almazan
Fabian Almazan
Fabian Almazan
b.1984
piano
. And there's the whirlwind title track, where the musicians maneuvering in and out of its increasing intensity. Dingman is illusive, a master of disguise; his mallets adding delicate shades and hues. But he can also ignite, as in "Clear The Rain," with a solo like wildfire, developing slowly and then spreading quickly.

Akinmusire's presence is also important; he can carry a melody (the aforementioned "Clear The Rain") or add depth and imagery in "Nocturnal," a piece that is as compelling as a cinematic score. Furthermore, these tracks highlight another point—Dingman is a serious composer. Whether it's the arc of "Zaneta"'s swing or the reciting of poetry in the darkly lit "Epilogue: Stillness," his debut is a work of art and form. To bring ideas into fruition—let alone ones from dreams—into music that's articulated at this level, is something to admire.

Track Listing: Prelude; Vijayanagara; Jet Lag; Manhattan Bridge; Indian Hill; Waking Dreams; Interlude; Same Coin; Shift in the Wind; Reflection; Clear the Rain; Nocturnal; Zaneta; Epilogue: Stillness.

Personnel: Ambrose Akinmusire: trumpet; Loren Stillman: saxophones; Fabian Almazan: piano; Joe Sanders: bass; Justin Brown: drums; Chris Dingman: vibraphone; Ryan Ferreira: guitar (3); Erica Von Kleist: flute (2, 8); Mark Small: bass clarinet (8).

Record Label: Between Worlds Music


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