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Michael Eaton: Dialogical

Jerome Wilson By

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Saxophonist Michael Eaton covers a lot of ground on this CD, using several different configurations of musicians in a program that encompasses angular, funk-laced fusion, airy sax and flute duets, a multi-saxophone workout and minimalism in the Philip Glass style.

A key sideman here is guitarist Lionel Loueke whose unique style of playing and singing appears on four tracks. His clipped Morse-code vocals and guitar thread through the angular rhythms of "Juno" and "Aphoristic," complementing the swirling, choppy lines of Eaton's tenor and Brad Whiteley's piano. "Anthropocene" is similar but with more of a swaggering jazz fusion kick, and Brittany Anjou's vibraphone adding an extra layer of groove. Meanwhile "Dialogical" gives Loueke the chance to bend this sound in the direction of African soul.

"Cipher" has an angular, clipped melody turning into more soothing straight jazz playing from the rhythm section, while Eaton stretches out and pokes holes through the musical fabric. "I And Thou" starts with a throbbing spot of gimbri-playing by bassist Daniel Ori. Then three tenor players, Eaton, James Brandon Lewis and Sean Sonderegger, twist and dance together and separately as the rhythm section of Whiteley, Ori and drummer Shareef Taher pound and tumble in a Middle Eastern groove. There are also two short duets by Eaton on soprano and flutist Cheryl Pyle. On "Machinic Eros," their instruments flutter and squawk like birds, and on "Thanatos and Eros," they wrap around each other intimately.

The closing four-part work, "Temporalities" gives itself over to minimalism with a group involving trumpet, flute and marimba playing shifting cycles. "Part I" has trumpet and flute leading a bright, hammering charge of interlocking and repeating melodies, then "Part II" takes on a new theme with the horns sounding shriller and piano and marimba running in place. "Part III" shifts the horns to a more propulsive chugging motion with the piano and marimba threading underneath. Then, in a major shift, "Part IV" is mostly spaced and decaying sounds with the horns playing long, single note peals, the piano crashing chords that fade into nothingness and Brittany Anjou's vibes floating dreamily alongside solitary piano notes.

The music on this CD is so diverse, it feels more like a demo reel of what Eaton can do than a unified project. Despite that, the music is uniformly interesting and sometimes quite bracing and lively. "Temporalities" shows Eaton's potential as a composer and the tracks involving Loueke are sleek and energetic examples of Eaton's talents in playing saxophone and arranging a band.

Track Listing: Juno; Anthropocene; Aphoristic; Thanatos and Eros; Cipher; Dialogical; Machinic Eros; I and Thou; Temporalities (Parts I-IV).

Personnel: Michael Eaton: tenor and soprano saxophone; Brad Whiteley: piano; Daniel Ori: bass, gimbri; Shareef Taher: drums; Lionel Loueke: guitar (1-3, 5); Brittany Anjou: vibraphone (2, 6, 9-12), gyil (6); Cheryl Pyle: flute (4, 7, 9-12); Enrique Haneine: udu (1, 6); James Brandon Lewis: tenor saxophone (8); Sean Sonderegger: tenor saxophone (8); Jon Crowley: trumpet (9-12); Dorian Wallace: piano and prepared piano (9-12); Sarah Mullins: marimba and triangles (9-12).

Title: Dialogical | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Destiny Records

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