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Dominic Duval and Mark Whitecage have worked together before – State Of The Art and Free For Once are effective representatives of their shared craft. Both are visionaries and neither is bound by the known or the expected. They explore opportunity and in doing so usher a sense of adventure into their music.
Twists and turns that seem to come out of the nowhere showcase the versatility and the elasticity of their approach. These traits are strongly evidenced in the aptly named “Snap Judgment” with Duval setting it up on the bass through quick scampers, a slowing down of the rhythm on which Whitecage comes to sail. At first call the sax man is linear in approach, but the waves and warps come in and roll along with the turmoil of the bass. The beat undulates and changes course on the sharp shards that Whitecage jettisons before he finds the loop of a Middle Eastern melody. But if that were not enough he bops with hard edged notes before Duval takes the tempo into swing time. Every move has been a smooth one.
“Beginnings” casts its mark quite differently. Duval and Whitecage run patterns around each other, playing follow the leader and tag in a seamless skein proving their affinity and their sense of understanding, attributes given another enticing exhibition on “A Moment’s Thought.”
Duval feeds on a large terrain. His sense of timing, for one, is not only impeccable, it is delightful. He can ride the swell of an idea and then drop it into a heated cauldron the notes scurrying and singing in animated splendour. Just as surely he reins them in and repose calm in his ministrations. All this is brought to the fore on his solo turn. Whitecage interweaves several ideas as he exposes the tonal dimension of the clarinet. They jump out of the framework and nestle in, fluidity abutting short jabs, melody encountering atonal declaration, point and counterpoint completing the picture. This is a persuasive and stimulating engagement.
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.