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At about the same time that I was putting together my previous Junkyard piece on Sam Rivers I fortunately obtained an out-of-print copy of the book Sleeves of Desire. As a fan of album cover art, I had been hunting this one down for some time in order to take in the full scope of ECM’s history. Not only does this wonderful book highlight some of the label’s greatest covers, but there’s also a full-color illustration of the entire catalog up to the time of publication. Needless to say, I was sent back to my album stacks to pull out some titles I hadn’t listened to in a good while. Thus, I couldn’t resist making it another ECM title for rediscovery this month and one that holds fond memories for me personally.
I can still recall being in a mall in West Palm Beach, Florida when I came upon the Double Image album Dawn in a cutout bin (keep in mind this is not an easy task when one has thousands and thousands of albums and discs). I often spent summer vacations in Florida with my grandparents and I had just finished high school and was enrolled in a music conservatory studying classical percussion. Up to this point, I knew the ECM name only through various Pat Metheny albums, but when I turned over the cover of Dawn and saw the names David Samuels and Dave Friedman I knew I had to grab this particular album. You see, both men happen to be expert percussionists and the band Double image was formed around the duo’s vibraphone and marimba work. Rounding out the group were bassist Harvie Swartz (better known these days as Harvie S) and drummer Michael Di Pasqua.
Nowadays the average listener has a broad range of listening experiences due to how small the world has become via the Internet and communications in general, but back in 1978 it was surely a bit of an oddity to find a group with the lead voices being two percussion instruments. But both Samuels and Friedman deliver some especially attractive music over the course of four lengthy originals supported ably by Swartz and Di Pasqua. My favorite is still Samuels’ “Sunset Glow,” which starts out as a whisper and then shifts into high gear. Swartz contributes “Passage” and the opportunity for Samuels and Friedman to mesh on vibes and marimba make for some dazzling interplay.
Unfortunately, the lifespan of Double Image was short lived and there would be no further ECM dates, although Samuels would make another masterful set with Paul McCandless and others under the banner of Gallery a few years later. Although a bit dog eared at this point, Dawn remains one of my ECM favorites and it would be nothing short of a revelation to hear it lovingly transferred to compact disc.
I was first exposed to jazz as a middle school band student. A college ensemble passed through and put on a concert for the band students (of which I was one). The level of mastery and musicianship blew me away, intimidated, and inspired me
I was first exposed to jazz as a middle school band student. A college ensemble passed through and put on a concert for the band students (of which I was one). The level of mastery and musicianship blew me away, intimidated, and inspired me. Try as I might, I was never able to achieve a high enough level of competency to perform at the level I was first and subsequently exposed to. Regardless, I was hooked on jazz and remain so to this day.