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James Finn: Opening the Gates

Jerry D'Souza By

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It was to be the perfect setup even though they did not know it at the time. James Finn, Whit Dickey and Dominic Duval recorded some tracks in Finn's house that grew out of the moment's inspiration. Duval, who has recorded for Cadence, suggested that Finn send the music there. Cadence wanted more, and so this record came to be. Fate dealt its hand and the gates to Finn's debut were opened.

Finn has a Coltranesque sound with a nod to the tributaries of Pharoah Sanders and Archie Shepp. The volatility is juxtaposed with a sharp edge, but Finn also brings in warm contours that give his sound a wholesome balance. All the music was done without charts or rehearsals and in one take, except for "Spinning Pyramids Propelled," on which Duval gives the bass an interesting countenance with his richly textured and pithy doublets and triplets, and Finn blows a hard line that he convolutes and serrates before he spirals into the upper register in restless swirl. The screams, yowls and yelps no doubt make a statement, but the fulfillment comes as he turns fire into glow.

The last attribute is extended on the endearing "Truth Exiled Into Paradise." Here is a thoughtful player whose tenor navigates its path with precision and emotion. Dickey splashes light tinges on the cymbals and then changes to a funky Latin rhythm in collaboration with Duval. The trio offers a "Prayer for the Dead" with a strong melody that Finn improvises on. He never strays far from the core initially, adding a welcome dynamic, but when he does stretch out he journeys on hard terrain, biting and chewing the scenery. Not that that's a bad thing; matter of fact he extends the framework very well indeed. Meanwhile Duval and Dickey bide their time, giving the rhythm bed a subtle presence until Duval gets the spotlight for some arco work in a mesmeric drone.

At the end of it all, this turns out to be an encouraging debut.

Visit www.jamesfinnmusic.com .


Track Listing: Stone Birds Northward Helix; Opening the Gates; Starlight Extensions; Falling Blossoms Rising Moon; Spinning Pyramids Propelled; Truth Exiled Into Paradise; Transmissions Spheric; Prayer for the Dead

Personnel: James Finn--tenor saxophone; Dominic Duval--bass; Whit Dickey--drums

Title: Opening the Gates | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Cadence Jazz Records


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