256

Whit Dickey: Coalescence

By

Sign in to view read count
Whether journeymen or singular voices on their instrument, drummer-leaders are often afforded a unique opportunity for "stepping out." Sunny Murray was the percussionist who one thought might just disappear behind Ayler and Cecil in the '60s, yet as a leader he exemplified a relentless sonic force both instrumentally and compositionally. Ronnie Scott gave Tony Oxley his first sideman recordings, but it was not long after that his extraordinarily vanguard ensemble concepts and altered percussive technique graced his sides as a leader-something that the British jazz cognoscenti probably didn't know what to make of. Whit Dickey, heir to Murray and Rashied Ali, propulsion for David S. Ware and Matthew Shipp in the '90s, and a formidable bandleader in his own right, is one of the percussionists to fill the shoes of such heavy company.

On Coalescence, Dickey's third album as a leader (the first was recorded six years ago for AUM Fidelity), the percussionist is joined by altoist/flutist Rob Brown, who also contributed to that first session, trumpeter Roy Campbell Jr., and bassist Joe Morris (whose guitar now seems to be the moonlight gig). Dickey is not, with this ensemble, presenting a dramatic new concept in improvised music, as his compositional style runs the gamut from driving free-bop to pastoral tone poems. But following an honest course is certainly not a precursor to the doldrums: Brown and Campbell complement one another perfectly, the altoist's dry, ebullient lyricism and biting tone in concert with the trumpeter's punchy bravura. Dickey's percussive style (especially on the slower numbers) makes heavy use of cymbals, a pulse created through the combination of sonic washes and hi-hat rhythms, not unlike Murray but possibly more akin to distant cousins like Hüseyin Ertunç.

"Mojo Rising" is a driving free bop number somewhere between Ornette and Ayler that wouldn't sound out of place on Noah Howard's first record; here Dickey shows himself here to be a formidable drummer "in-time," however tenuous that metric relationship might be. Morris, too, sets an insistent pulse, and his constant thrum is perhaps what keeps the tune from becoming a maelstrom. "Coalescence," which comes in two different forms on the second and fourth tracks, is certainly more directly conversational and dissonant than the opener, a defined pulse from Dickey becoming ever more broken even as singsong phrases from Brown suggest "time," only to hack it to pieces a few measures later. Sounding uncannily as though he were playing a shakuhachi, Brown switches to flute for "Steam," as agitated a ballad as one could possibly hope for.

It is comforting to know that Whit Dickey, as low-profile as he sometimes is, steams ahead in the world of free jazz. With cohorts Brown, Campbell and Morris, the preservation of a purposeful and poetic creative music appears fundamental. In a climate where gimmick and noisy throwback vie equally for the throne of freedom, we can only hope that, whatever the aggregation, such voices as these continue to be heard.

Track Listing: Mojo Rising - Coalescence 1 - Steam - Coalescence 2

Personnel: Whit Dickey (drums) Rob Brown (alto sax, flute) Roy Campbell Jr. (trumpet) Joe Morris (bass)

Title: Coalescence | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Unknown label

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
Read more articles
Vessel in Orbit

Vessel in Orbit

AUM Fidelity
2017

buy
 

Sacred Ground

Wobbly Rail
2006

buy
Coalescence

Coalescence

Unknown label
2005

buy
 

In A Heartbeat

Wobbly Rail
2005

buy
Prophet Moon

Prophet Moon

Riti Records
2003

buy
 

Big Top

Wobbly Rail
2000

buy

Related Articles

Read Live in Newcastle, December 8, 1972 Album Reviews
Live in Newcastle, December 8, 1972
By John Kelman
April 19, 2019
Read HUJE 2018 Album Reviews
HUJE 2018
By Jack Bowers
April 19, 2019
Read Farallon Album Reviews
Farallon
By Jerome Wilson
April 19, 2019
Read Burning Meditation Album Reviews
Burning Meditation
By John Sharpe
April 18, 2019
Read Remembering Cecil Album Reviews
Remembering Cecil
By Dan McClenaghan
April 18, 2019
Read Apophenia Album Reviews
Apophenia
By Roger Farbey
April 18, 2019
Read Transcending the Sum Album Reviews
Transcending the Sum
By Chris May
April 17, 2019