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Dennis Gonzalez's Spirit Meridian: Idle Wild

Mark Corroto By

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The second Dennis Gonzalez sighting on the Portuguese Clean Feed label solidifies his reputation with some remarkable writing and playing. He retains only drummer Michael Thompson from his first outing, NY Midnight Suite (2004). This studio session finds him in good company with bassist Fen Filiano and saxophonist Oliver Lake.

The Texan trumpeter has been a shadowy figure in jazz, electing not to quit his day job teaching in the public schools. He has worked with leaders of the new jazz movements and was closely associated with Charles Brackeen in the 1980s.

Idle Wild pulls from many "new" movements in jazz, but remains highly listenable and exciting. The 21-minute-plus opening track, dedicated to the Art Ensemble of Chicago's now deceased Malachi Favors, plays with a Sketches of Spain/Witchi-Tai-To feel before evolving into a percussion/brass call and response. The piece, like an AEC improvisation, is doused full of redemptive hope and uplifting praise. Lake and Gonzalez make for a classic partnership, at times playing Coleman/Cherry-meet-Zorn/Douglas roles; in other words the relationship is simpatico. They skip and flutter around each other on "Bush Medicine, a lighthearted response to the if-I-only-had-a-brain US President, while Ken Filiano applies some heavy wooden vibes.

The title track is a collective improvisation, but that label doesn't give a fair representation of the songmaking of this quartet. They turn initial searching into a statement of purpose, evidence of the band's cohesive nature and each player's ability to listen to one another. Thompson must take credit here for pulse and shared energy. He leaves spaces for players between his toms and clanging.

The disc ends with the spirited "Document For Toshinori Kondo, a piece that elbows itself wholeheartedly up to the New York scene, demanding attention in the Downtown realm. All this is proof that Gonzalez has never been far away from what's happening now.

Track Listing: Elechi - Elergy For Malachi Favors; Bush Medicine; Dust; Idle Wild; Song; Document For Toshinori Kondo.

Personnel: Dennis Gonzalez: trumpet; Oliver Lake: alto saxophone; Ken Filiano: double bass; Michael T. A. Thompson: drums.

Title: Idle Wild | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records

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