512

Gerry Hemingway: The Whimbler

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
Gerry Hemingway: The Whimbler Dream team assemblages are fairly regular occurrences in New York City-baseed improvisatory music. With so much talent operating in such a relatively small territory, the odds of a favorite players teaming up remain strongly favorable. Such alchemy is apparent in abundance on Gerry Hemingway's new project for Clean Feed, one that builds on the standing foundation of its predecessor, Devil's Paradise, with a few perspicacious personnel changes.

Titled with whimsy, The Whimbler convenes a quartet with credentials to spare. The frontline of tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin and trumpeter Herb Robertson alone incites all sorts of scintillating creative music fantasies, not to mention the juggernaut formed by joining Hemingway and bassist Mark Helias as a rhythm section. This is a group staunchly oriented toward the drummer's jazz and groove-based proclivities. Helias even brings along his Squier electric to cultivate an appropriately ricocheting rubber ball tonality on tracks like heavily syncopated blues "The Current Underneath, which slots a surprise space for the leader's nimble marimba, and the title piece, another funky number that perambulates on a popping pogo stick beat. The closer "Kimkwella also depends on his fibrillating fingerings in the service of a tropical-tinged island theme.

All compositions come from Hemingway's pen and are chock-full of changeups and about-faces that demand active participation on the part of the players. Fortunately, the ensemble was able to commit the basics to collective memory on a series of concert gigs leading up to a pair of studio recording dates. Hemingway largely abstains from involving the more abstract elements of his style like bowed cymbals and scraped metal and focuses instead on crafting a tight conference of accessible voices that still leaves plenty of room for spontaneous revision and individual input. "Waitin jogs along on a rims-driven rhythm, soon augmented by the colorful splash of cymbals. Helias' bulbous fills also add a propulsive push in close collusion for the ramp up to sprinting finish.

Pieces like "Pumbum and "Curlycue carry the airy melodiousness of madrigals, horns floating breezily across porous terrain charted by bass and drums, but are just as likely to turn on a hairpin into hard-charging swing. Eskelin alternates from cutting honks to velvety flutters, calibrating cannily to the mood and needs of each piece. Robertson's brass proves just as versatile. His liquid mercury tone and quick-witted phrasing daubs and darts with just the right ratio of viscosity to bite. His exchange with Helias' arco strokes on "Rallier makes for an unexpectedly agreeable match.

Throughout this piece and others, Hemingway's sticks stamp shifting rhythms that subtlety toy with and subvert their expected trajectories alongside Helias' stalwart thrum. In his closing solo he exudes the directness and drive of a rock drummer, stoking the beat with cascading rolls. It's as if the relatively conventional, but still highly feracious and engaging structures of the compositions aren't quite capable of containing him.


Track Listing: Waitin; Rallier; The Current Underneath; Pumbum; The Whimbler; Spektiv; Curlycue; In the Distance; Kimkwella.

Personnel: Gerry Hemingway: drums; Herb Roberston: trumpet; Ellery Eskelen: tenor saxophone; Mark Helias: acoustic & electric bass. Recorded March 2 and June 17, 2004, Brooklyn, NY.

Title: The Whimbler | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Masters In Bordeaux CD/LP/Track Review Masters In Bordeaux
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 19, 2017
Read On Parade In Parede CD/LP/Track Review On Parade In Parede
by John Sharpe
Published: August 19, 2017
Read Good Merlin CD/LP/Track Review Good Merlin
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 19, 2017
Read I Believe In You CD/LP/Track Review I Believe In You
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 18, 2017
Read Morning Sun CD/LP/Track Review Morning Sun
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 18, 2017
Read The Conscience CD/LP/Track Review The Conscience
by John Sharpe
Published: August 18, 2017
Read "Southern Avenue" CD/LP/Track Review Southern Avenue
by James Nadal
Published: February 10, 2017
Read "Aram Bajakian's Dolphy Formations" CD/LP/Track Review Aram Bajakian's Dolphy Formations
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 28, 2016
Read "Vanheusenism: A Tribute to Jimmy Van Heusen" CD/LP/Track Review Vanheusenism: A Tribute to Jimmy Van Heusen
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 2, 2016
Read "Nuit Blanche" CD/LP/Track Review Nuit Blanche
by John Kelman
Published: February 14, 2017
Read "Resonance" CD/LP/Track Review Resonance
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 15, 2017
Read "As The Wind" CD/LP/Track Review As The Wind
by John Eyles
Published: January 12, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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