All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

3

Devin Gray: Dirigo Rataplan II

Jerome Wilson By

Sign in to view read count
Dirigo Rataplan is a group led by drummer Devin Gray that contains three outstanding musicians with Baltimore ties, saxophonist Ellery Eskelin, trumpeter Dave Ballou and bassist Michael Formanek. They first recorded in 2012, and six years later they have released a followup CD, Dirigo Rataplan II, with a rambunctious inside-outside style that is based on strong melodies and rhythms but still allows plenty of room for fiery improvisation.

Several of the tracks are built around heavy rumbling bass lines by Formanek and rustling drum accents by Grey, with Ballou and Eskelin soaring above them either together or separately. From this approach comes results like chatty horn singing over a thick, tarry groove on "Trends of Trending," a snakey rhumba beat matched with cool, intertwined horn lines on "Congruently," and sax and trumpet playing languid, yearning lines together over a quick-stepping combination of march and waltz on "What We Learn From Cities."

"The Wire" starts with a rare note of lively quartet unity but then breaks apart into a bed of tugging bass and rolling drums that grounds abstract horn solos. Eskelin moans long, low notes and Ballou emerges high and bubbly. "Quantum Cryptology" uses a similar gambit but with a slower, spacier feel, opening on a mournful unison melody and progressing through deep singing tenor over strummed bass and ear-piercing trumpet over rattling percussion. "Feeling of Healing" takes things even farther out. It begins as a slow, grand melody then dissipates into squealing abstraction featuring Formanek scrabbling furiously with his bow and the horn players making wispy, ghostly noises.

On "Texicate" Gray and Eskelin putter about in small patterns before Ballou and Formanek join them in a sea of small, nervous gestures that eventually come together into a trembling mass, and on "Intrepid Travelers" Ballou and Eskelin take slow lyrical excursions both in unison and opposition to each other held together by the strutting, slow-walk rhythm maintained by Formanek and Gray.

Michael Formanek's bass is the secret weapon of this session, the thick, groaning fulcrum that gives shape and weight to the improvisational flights of his partners. He also gets a well-deserved spotlight in his leathery solo turn on "Travelers." The entire quartet plays with a free-wheeling daring mixed with earthy grit in a manner reminiscent of some of the bands of Ornette Coleman or Henry Threadgill. This is a high-flying, breathtaking slice of up-to-the-minute jazz from four musicians at the top of their games.

Track Listing: Congruently; Rollin' Thru Town; Trends of Trending; Texicate; The Wire; Quantum Cryptology; What We Learn From Cities; The Feeling of Healing (for Steve Grover); Intrepid Travelers; Micro Dosage.

Personnel: Devin Gray: drums; Ellery Eskelin: tenor saxophone; Michael Formanek: bass; Dave Ballou: trumpet.

Title: Dirigo Rataplan II | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Congruently

Congruently

Devin Gray
Dirigo Rataplan II

City Nothing City

City Nothing City

Devin Gray
RelativE ResonancE

Dirigo Highlights

Dirigo Highlights

Devin Gray
Dirigo Rataplan

Radio
CD/LP/Track Review
Take Five With...
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Dirigo Rataplan II

Dirigo Rataplan II

Self Produced
2018

buy
RelativE ResonancE

RelativE ResonancE

Skirl Records
2015

buy
Dirigo Rataplan

Dirigo Rataplan

Skirl Records
2012

buy
Wolfwalk

Wolfwalk

Umlaut Records
2005

buy

Related Articles

Read Ancestros CD/LP/Track Review
Ancestros
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 18, 2018
Read The Bitter Suite CD/LP/Track Review
The Bitter Suite
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 18, 2018
Read Ornettiquette CD/LP/Track Review
Ornettiquette
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 18, 2018
Read The Astral Revelations CD/LP/Track Review
The Astral Revelations
by John Sharpe
Published: November 18, 2018
Read The Sound Of The Earth CD/LP/Track Review
The Sound Of The Earth
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 18, 2018
Read Return to the Future CD/LP/Track Review
Return to the Future
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 17, 2018
Read "Living Being II - Night Walker" CD/LP/Track Review Living Being II - Night Walker
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 13, 2018
Read "Charlie Porter" CD/LP/Track Review Charlie Porter
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: September 9, 2018
Read "And She Speaks - A Collection Of Ballads" CD/LP/Track Review And She Speaks - A Collection Of Ballads
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 25, 2018
Read "Essential Blues" CD/LP/Track Review Essential Blues
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 24, 2017
Read "Return to the Future" CD/LP/Track Review Return to the Future
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 7, 2018
Read "Colours Of Your Love: Wild Silk Strings Project" CD/LP/Track Review Colours Of Your Love: Wild Silk Strings Project
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 6, 2018