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Album Review

Out To Dinner: Play On

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Out To Dinner: Play On
Record producers don't always get the same amount of attention as the musicians featured on an album, but their role and influence is vital in the recording process. Take The Beatles' producer, George Martin, for example. His involvement brought the music to a new level. This is also the case with Blue Note co-founder Alfred Lion, whose direction led to some of jazz music's most important recordings. Following Lion's lead, Posi-Tone Records' producer Marc Free tries to capture the spirit of Lion's producer/ensemble relationship in the studio with the group Out To Dinner.

Lion frequently concentrated on the sound of the entire group rather than simply showcasing individual performers. One of the most notable examples of this musical partnership is Eric Dolphy's 1964 Blue Note release, Out To Lunch!. Free initially captured the essence of Dolphy and Lion's studio vibes with Out to Dinner's first album, 2018's Different Flavors. Free's concept proved successful, and Out To Dinner is back for a second helping with Play On.

The album features a quartet working together as an almost seamless unit much like Dolphy's ensemble. In the liner notes for Out to Lunch!, Dolphy remarked that everyone was a leader in the group. This is certainly the case with Out to Dinner as well. Each member is a strong presence and no particular performer is singled out over another.

The lineup on Play On differs slightly from that of Different Flavors. Vibraphonist Behn Gillece and bassist Boris Koslov are carried over from the first album. However, Play On includes some new faces as well. {m: Giveton Gelin}} is featured on trumpet, Nicole Glover on sax and Donald Edwards on drums. Play On also features guest artist, Patrick Cornelius, who plays alto saxophone on three tracks.

Most of the songs on Play On are original compositions and, as with Different Flavors, the attempt is not to replicate Dolphy's sound, but instead to honor it. The closest the album comes to sounding like Out To Lunch! is with the Koslov composition, "Random." Its tight-knit complexity and polyrhythmic approach echoes certain elements of Dolphy's music without sounding derivative. The title track also has some Dolphy overtones but with a little more melodic elbow room. Each of the soloists brings some appetizing melodies to the table. Edwards' "Asami's Playland" is another well-crafted melody, framed by close-knit harmonies and enhanced with impressive solos from Gelin, Glover and Gillece.

Other selections have melodic and introspective qualities. The Edwards composition "The Dream," is almost ethereal, with the trumpet and saxophone playing in unison with Gillece's vibes providing a harmonic backdrop. Stevie Wonder's "Visions" is another haunting melody, featuring a musical conversation between Gillece and Koslov.

The album closes with a version of Lee Morgan's "Short Count," which offers a tasty slice of hard bop to finish things off. Each of the players goes into full swing here, and Free's production brings it all together. All of the musicians show a true passion for playing, which is evidenced throughout the entire album. Play On embodies the spirit of Alfred Lion and Eric Dolphy. Perhaps Shakespeare sums it up best: "If music be the food of love, play on."

Track Listing

Play On; Random; Asami's Playland; Rebecca's Dance; Into The Shadows; Abe Duct; Armageddon; Something From Nothing; The Essential Passion; Visions; Lew's Loose; The Dream; Short Count

Personnel

Behn Gillece: vibraphone; Nicole Glover: saxophone, tenor; Giveton Gelin: trumpet; Boris Kozlov: bass; Donald Edwards: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

Patrick Cornelius: alto saxophone

Album information

Title: Play On | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Posi-Tone Records


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