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David Gilmore: Energies of Change

Dave Wayne By

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David Gilmore's career started off with a bang. He worked with Steve Coleman through the 1990s, appearing on at least nine recordings either led, or instigated, by the renowned saxophonist, composer, bandleader, and recent MacArthur Award recipient. Since emerging from Coleman's M-BASE fold, Gilmore has worked with a stunning variety of artists both inside and outside the jazz world. Zap Mama, Wayne Shorter, Muhal Richard Abrams, MeShell NdegeOcello, Monday Michiru, and Don Byron are just a few of the diverse musicians who've worked with the veteran guitarist. Perhaps this full slate of collaborations has diverted Gilmore's attention away from releasing his own music, because Energies of Change is only his fourth release as a leader. This seems so hard to believe that I had to check several online sources to make sure it was, indeed, the case. It is, indeed, the case.

Energies of Change, both the title of the recording and the name of the working band, is an all-star aggregation. It's literally a band of leaders. Interestingly, it is only one of three such projects led by Gilmore, who also leads an as-yet-unrecorded power trio with Matthew Garrison and Gene Lake, and maintains the band featured on his previous recording Numerology: Live At The Jazz Standard (Evolutionary Music, 2012) as a working unit. Though clearly influenced by the years spent working with Steve Coleman, the music on Energies of Change is never less than fascinating.

Listening to Energies of Change, one may well be stumped as to which instrumentalist is the date's leader. In a Blindfold Test, I would guess it's a drummer's album. The most attention-grabbing compositional elements throughout Energies of Change are the numerous, intricately layered rhythmic modulations in each tune. Also, Antonio Sanchez plays like his pants are on fire. Yet, Gilmore, who avoids using a lot of effects, is a singularly percussive guitarist. A profound fascination with rhythm informs his playing and composing. His crisp attack and beautifully-articulated lines evoke the likes of Grant Green, Al DiMeola, and Jim Hall, though his harmonic and rhythmic languages are purely of the 21st Century.

It would be pointless to try to describe each track. Energies of Change re-fuses fusion in new and interesting ways. African rhythms figure prominently on "Dance of Duality," while "Awakening" utilizes post-bop elements, and "The Seeker" feels like a classic M-BASE tune. "Revelations" is a gentle, flowing piece featuring Gilmore on acoustic guitar and Marcus Strickland's gorgeous soprano that evokes the work of Ralph Towner and Paul McCandless in Oregon. Suffice it to say that Energies of Change is a diverse and virtuosic adventure through modern hybrid jazz-based forms. Multi-layered, flawless in execution and conceptually profound, it's every bit the equal of recent, award-winning recordings by the likes of Jack DeJohnette, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Vijay Iyer, and Steve Coleman.

Track Listing: Energies of Change; Rajas Guna; Dance of Duality; The Seeker; Sacred Pause; Over Shadow Hill Way; Awakening; Revelations; Trick of I.

Personnel: David Gilmore: electric and acoustic guitars; Marcus Strickland: alto, tenor, soprano saxophones, bass clarinet; Luis Perdomo: piano; Ben Williams: bass; Antonio Sanchez: drums; Kofo Wanda: talking drum (3).

Title: Energies of Change | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Evolutionary Music

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