Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
129

Gerd Dudek: 'Smatter

John Eyles By

Sign in to view read count Views
Gerd Dudek: 'Smatter

Wow! If Evan Parker's Lines Burnt in Light was an extraordinary debut for his new Psi label then this, the label's second release, is even more of a cause for celebration. According to Parker's sleeve note, this is the first ever release under Dudek's own name. (Yes, he has had joint credits—for instance the trio albums on Konnex—but not sole credit.) Anyway, be that as it may, this album is both surprising and wonderful. Whatever preconceptions one may have about Dudek from his work with Globe Unity Orchestra or Berlin Contemporary Jazz Orchestra are blown away. All six tracks are other people's compositions, including three by Kenny Wheeler. (Despite his exalted status as a player and leader, Wheeler's most lasting legacy may well prove to be his compositions.) From Dudek's first notes on the opener, Wheeler's "Phase Three," his playing is rich-toned, melodic and emotionally charged. While those are qualities he has displayed elsewhere, the straight-ahead jazz context here reveals them in a new light.

Dudek recorded with those stalwarts of the British scene, John Parricelli, Chris Laurence and Tony Levin, not the most obvious choice of bands for him. They largely act as a rhythm section (and a mighty fine one), allowing Dudek to stay in the solo spotlight, with Parricelli's guitar repeatedly grabbing the attention for its understated yet highly inventive support.

Most remarkable of the pieces here is the seventeen-minute "Body & Soul." My heart simultaneously sinks and flutters whenever I see it listed on a saxophonist's album. What can they find to do or say that is fresh and original without being just quirky? Dudek's version is a tour-de-force with few points of comparison. It opens with ensemble playing that is as close as the album gets to free playing (i.e. not very!) before Dudek hits his stride with a sustained, flowing Coltranesque solo that teases out the strands of the theme. This leads into an unaccompanied rapid-fire sax interlude, more in keeping with preconceptions of Dudek's playing, before the dramatic reappearance of the band for a storming climax.

This music was recorded as long ago as February 1998. The fact that it has remained unreleased for four years is inexplicable; we owe Parker and Psi a debt of gratitude. For Evan Parker to release another saxophonist on his own label speaks volumes; Dudek more than lives up to that vote of confidence.


Track Listing: Phase Three; Ma Bel; 'Smatter; Body & Soul; By George; The Peacocks

Personnel: Gerd Dudek, tenor & soprano saxophones; John Parricelli, guitar; Chris Laurence, bass; Tony Levin, drums

Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Psi


CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Day And Night
Day And Night
Psi
2012
buy
'Smatter
'Smatter
Psi
2002
buy
[no cover]
Crossing Level
psi
1997
buy
[no cover]
Pulque
psi
1993
buy
[no cover]
After All
psi
1991
buy
[no cover]
European Jazz Quintet...
psi
1982
buy
Fred Anderson Fred Anderson
saxophone
Herb Robertson Herb Robertson
trumpet
Rob Brown Rob Brown
saxophone
Hamid Drake Hamid Drake
percussion
Tony Malaby Tony Malaby
sax, tenor
Odean Pope Odean Pope
saxophone
Ellery Eskelin Ellery Eskelin
saxophone

More Articles

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.