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Dave Bryant: Night Visitors

Dan McClenaghan By

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Dave Bryant: Night Visitors
Free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman didn't record much with piano players. Exceptions were Geri Allen on Sound Museum: Three Women and Sound Museum: Hidden Man, released simultaneously in 1996 on Harmolodic / Verve, and Dave Bryant on Tone Dialing (Harmolodic / Verve, 1995), during Coleman's Prime Time days.

Bryant's immersion in Coleman's sound—he has conducted master classes in the alto saxophonist's Harmolodic theory and performance at Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory of Music—lays the foundation for Night Visitors, taking Coleman's concepts and presenting them in a piano trio format. Bassist Charnett Moffett, who played on the Sound Museum recordings, is also here, as is Gregg Bendian, a drummer with a clamorous, free-swinging drumming style not too far from that of Denardo Coleman, Ornette's son, who held down the drum chair on eleven of his father's recordings.

Opening with the Bryant original, "Lime Pickle," the Harmolodic mood is set. Bryant's piano spews a frantic, stop and start melody which sounds like something out of the Ornette Coleman songbook. Moffett paints a similarly busy picture, and Bendian bangs and rumbles unpredictably. And, like many things Coleman composed, Bryant's creation is, in its hurried, pell-mell way, a very pretty tune.

"In Transit" features Bryant on an electric keyboard. The tune could serve as a soundtrack for a runaway Amazon delivery truck, careening through busy streets, its driver pumping the brakes that have gone awol. "Chihuahua Pearl" presents a loopy groove—Bryant is electric here, too—sounding like fusion jazz on hallucinogens, and "Scorpio 80," dedicated to comic book artist Jim Steranko, brings a soul music mood into the proceedings.

Bryant and company cover one Ornette Coleman tune, "Dee Dee," from At The Golden Circle, Vol. 1 (Blue Note, 1966), a composition which wears Bryant's organ trio rendition well. It might be the highlight, but then there is "Three Night Visitors."

"Three Night Visitors," a three-part, twenty-plus minute suite, with Bendian's glockenspiel and electronic sweetenings, is a dream sequence soundtrack, a surreal and patiently unfolding reality as seen through a diaphanous and slightly luminescent gauze—gorgeous and mysterious. The album's back cover photo shows the shadows of three riders perched atop camels. Perhaps the "'visitors" are desert sojourners. But then the front cover photo appears to be a nebula backgrounded by a sea of stars, suggesting the night visitors could have come in from outer space. Who knows?

Track Listing

Lime Pickle; In Transit; Skywritten; Chihuahua Pearl; Confidential; Scorpio 80; The Night Flock; Three Night Visitors: Part I; Part II; Part III.

Personnel

Dave Bryant: keyboards; Charnett Moffett: bass; Gregg Bendian: drums.

Album information

Title: Night Visitors | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: SE Records

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