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New York-based drummer Deric Dickens' southern roots and inspirations derived from legendary music archivist Alan Lomax morph into an Americana-dappled spectrum of modern jazz on this delightful trio date. The bass-less program summons a capacious platform, as the artists' rural and bluesy twists underscore the modern jazz vernacular. Lomax zigzagged across America in the 1930s with his Model T Ford to document America's unsung folk and blues delegation. But the group effectively projects a contemporary vibe, teeming with insightful storylines and wholehearted sentiment.
Cornetist Kirk Knuffke's soulful golden-toned lines remain a constant throughout. The trio executes quaint balladry with the delicacy of floating through a cloud, but guitarist Jesse Lewis' distortion-laced solo spots offer a jazz-fusion undercurrent on several pieces, sparking a sense of newness. With a mix of traditional pieces composed by rather obscure artists and originals, they highlight the expressive harmonic content of early roots music.
On Dickens' "I Should Have Known," the band imparts a bluesy swagger as Lewis turns up the heat via steely lines and tricky fingering maneuvers. With "Hallelujah," the band gels to a medium- tempo jazz-rock pulse, also yielding a downhome vibe. They follow it up with Knuffke's "Twice My Heavy," where Lewis' fuzz-toned and phased treatments up the ante as Dickens' helps raise the intensity level a few notches with peppery rolls and swashing cymbals hits. Here, Knuffke's brash, upper-register phrasing, activate pumping choruses and an in-your-face mode of operations.
The Dickens Campaign raises cultural awareness, but even if you take Lomax's legacy out of the picture, the album stands on its own. The musicians intertwine a sense of antiquity with a hip musical portraiture, underscored with the customary highs and lows, while tearing it up on occasion. Hence, the music breathes as the album's LP-length timeframe sparks a concise portraiture that is not overcooked or superfluous by design: they aim to entertain by enacting a new spin on the dusty old roads previously traversed.
Track Listing: As I Went Out For a Ramble; Roustabout Holler; Poem; My Baby Likes To
Sing; Oh Lovely Appearance Of Death; I Should Have Known; Paul Motian;
Hallelujah; Twice My Heavy; Waiting.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.