Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

131

Ernest Dawkins: Live At The Original Velvet Lounge

By

Sign in to view read count
Ernest Dawkins' New Horizons Ensemble
Live At The Original Velvet Lounge
Delmark
2006



Ernest "Khabeer Dawkins is old-school to the bone. Which is not to say that he's a conventionalist, much less a purist. In line with the philosophy of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM)—of which he is a member, alumnus and present chairman—Dawkins is simultaneously traditionalist and futurist. His New Horizons Ensemble is a sort of cultural mission; now in its third decade, it continues to excite and educate, blending reverence with a taste for pure, euphoric spectacle.

The Messenger finds the group in suitable environs. Fred Anderson's Velvet Lounge is a performance venue that is renowned for both its progressive agenda and its respect for communal tradition. While this music certainly registers as vivid, fun and consummately played, it's also of a piece with something larger: the black musical ethos. Performing a repertoire of potent, very idiomatic compositions—recalling everything from the 1961 Jazz Messengers to the dirge-like themes of the Ornette Coleman trio—the Ensemble doesn't so much re-imagine jazz history as re-energize it, treating it with veneration and love.

This isn't to say that the Ensemble is devoid of individuality. It is, indeed, the idiosyncrasies and energy of the musicians that keep the history afloat. Dawkins is a powerful instrumentalist who at times recalls the plangent, human cry of Ornette Coleman and the fire of Sonny Criss, but his phrasing and attack have a unique angularity. Brown and Berry are both excellent technicians, well versed in extended techniques, as well as responsive group voices. Savage and Spencer are extremely impressive as the young rhythm section, suggesting a rougher version of the William Parker-Hamid Drake dyad, with a taste for open, backbeat-heavy grooves.

Delmark's DVD edition does a fine job of capturing the performance. This is functional cinema, shot with mid-quality cameras, inclined toward a documentary style. The camerawork is subtle and unobtrusive, surrendering itself to the natural air of the concert space. The final film is enough of a joy to offset the weak DVD programming, which is devoid of any extras—it's a petty concern, ultimately, with so fine a performance as this.

Although informed by the seeds of past pioneers, this is not an academic, institutionalized music. In typical AACM fashion, it's played by the people for a history that is even now being written. This makes for an exhilarating creative experience: singing to the future, planted firmly in the footprints of our fathers.


Tracks: Intro; Mean Ameen; The Messenger; Goin' Downtown Blues; Toucouleur; The Brood; The Boute; Lookin' For Ninny; Go Fred.

Personnel: Ernest Dawkins: alto and tenor saxophone; Maurice Brown: trumpet; Steve Berry: trombone; Darius Savage: bass; Isaiah Spencer: drums.

Production Notes: Recorded at 24 bit/96kHz High Resolution Audio, July 14, 2005 at Fred Anderson's Velvet Lounge, Chicago, Illinois. Extras: none.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
Film Reviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
The Prairie Prophet

The Prairie Prophet

Delmark Records
2011

buy
The Messenger

The Messenger

Delmark Records
2006

buy
Cape Town Shuffle

Cape Town Shuffle

Delmark Records
2003

buy
Jo'burg Jump

Jo'burg Jump

Delmark Records
2000

buy

Related Articles

Film Reviews
Buddy Bolden: Out of History's Shadows
By Victor L. Schermer
May 3, 2019
Film Reviews
Green Book: A Serious Comedy and Jazz Allegory
By Victor L. Schermer
December 28, 2018
Film Reviews
Home Invasion: In Concert at the Royal Albert Hall (2CD/Blu Ray)
By John Kelman
December 22, 2018
Film Reviews
Green Book Directed By Peter Farrelly
By Mike Perciaccante
December 3, 2018
Film Reviews
Rolling Stones: Voodoo Lounge Uncut
By Doug Collette
November 17, 2018
Film Reviews
Rolling Stone: Stories From The Edge - 50 Years of Defining Culture
By Doug Collette
October 7, 2018
Film Reviews
The US Festival 1982: The US Generation
By Doug Collette
September 2, 2018