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Paul Dunmall: Bright Light A Joyous Celebration


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Paul Dunmall: Bright Light A Joyous Celebration
While the opener suggests a blowing session from veteran British saxophonist Paul Dunmall, as good as that promises to be, the reality is better still. Joining him is a starry cast drawn from succeeding generations, with the addition of American drummer Hamid Drake. With the drummer touring in the UK. Dunmall took the opportunity to renew a friendship that stretches back almost two decades, one first heard on the fiery Peace And Joy (Slam, 2006). Alongside them in the studio are the saxophones of Soweto Kinch and Xhosa Cole, Corey Mwamba's vibraphone and Dave Kane occupying the bass chair.

For the date Dunmall supplied four charts, with the program completed by one cooperative endeavor. That first cut, "You Look Away," serves as an introduction to the band, as a punchy head inaugurates an agreeable bounce and an ensuing series of solos. Helpfully the three reedmen, who all play tenor at some point, are ranged across the stereo picture and their positions identified on the sleeve. Although Dunmall might be the most storied, Kinch's insistent cries and bluesy tinges and Cole's angular yelps and timbral adventures ensure a satisfying depth to both the features and collective voicings.

Thereafter the horns unwind, attractively interweaving like the titular garrulous songsters on "Many Sparrows," where the written material overlaps and is passed from one to another in a communal swirl without explicit spots for any one player. Drake begins "Disbelief" alone, before the reeds loosely articulate the theme. Among the subsequent delights is a duet between Kinch and Cole, with the pair entwining around one another, before stretching out individually. This is also a great place to appreciate Mwamba's idiosyncratic interaction with the front line; much more than comping, he clanks, accentuates and echoes particular turns of phrase, in a way which amplifies rather than encroaches.

Though Drake does not impose himself on proceedings, he lends the set an inevitable surge of ticking grooves and spicy fills, buoying up everyone around him. He comes nearest to stepping out on "I've Had A Lot," where his punctuations of a Kane pizzicato excursion gradually bloom in polyrhythmic splendor. Although it is the one piece without a script, it does not sound dissimilar to the rest, especially after the drummer's patter gives the percolating horns some direction and Dunmall, flanked by impromptu riffing, extemporizes a piping folky air on soprano. The title track rounds of the album in style, doing what it says on the tin, illuminated by eddying and glinting vibes and soaring tenor from the leader.

The track concludes what one might call a terrific straight-ahead free jazz outing, if that is not a contradiction in terms, by a likely unrepeatable top notch grouping.

Track Listing

You Look Away; Many Sparrows; Disbelief; I've Had A Lot; Bright Light A Joyous Celebration.


Paul Dunmall
Soweto Kinch
Xhosa Cole
saxophone, tenor
Corey Mwamba
Additional Instrumentation

Paul Dunmall: c soprano, tenor saxophones; Soweto Kinch: alto, tenor saxophones; Xhosa Cole: tenor saxophone.

Album information

Title: Bright Light A Joyous Celebration | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Discus Music

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