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Bassist Dominic Duval steps out into the avant-garde with his Equinox Trio featuring cellist Tomas Ulrich and pianist Michael Jefry Stevens. After last year’s successful outing with saxophonist Mark Whitecage, Duval puts his session-man status aside with a project that is complex, multi-colored and definitely borders free jazz and modern classicism.
Paratum “The Whisper” contains contrasting motifs as Duval literally manhandles his acoustic bass with bow in hand. Here, Duval’s work represents a somewhat solemn atmosphere as Stevens’ piano expertise counterbalances the austerity with skilled utilization of harmonics and voicings, providing the color along with Ulrich’s high register cello movements. Elements of free-improvised jazz surface with dissonant phrasing and frantic dialogue. Images of a long arduous round table discussion come to mind, as everyone is in need of rest or perhaps a diversion. Of course these notions are left to one’s imagination however, that is the inherent beauty of it. Music of this ilk is open to interpretation. On “Strange Tools”, we hear Stevens implementing circular chord progressions on his piano supported by intermittent whistling and miscellaneous percussion. The musicians utilize their respective instruments as if they were tools of construction; hence, the individual voices each have something special to say.
“Equinox” represents more than just musical passages. A somewhat sobering experience for sure. These gentlemen throw the book at you as imaginations run rampant while displaying tireless workmanship through captivating dialogue.
“To Friendship” features a dueling exchange between Ulrich and Duval all with cunning intuitiveness. Ulrich’s cello and Duval’s bowed bass are two distinct voices as the end results are rewarding. Again, the dialogue is vivid and quite explicit. “Equinox” is free-improv of the modern jazz nature as the soloist’s are quite busy employing brief yet poignant statements. Stevens and Duval toggle melodic invention along a steady course, which implies rhythmic movement as opposed to performing structured meter or clearly defined time signatures.
“Equinox” is about invention, renewed hope and bountiful dialogue. Duval and associates do a phenomenal job of playing tricks with the listener’s imagination as fantasy and lucid imagery prevail throughout. Recommended *** ½
Dominic Duval; Bass, Mallets, Piano, Cymbal and Voice: Tomas Ulrich: Cello and Voice: Michael Jefry Stevens: Piano and Mallets.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.