111

Walter Blanton and Dharma: Voyage from the Past

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Grab your pencils and paper, students; there’ll be a pop quiz later. From Brian Sanders’ liner notes to Voyage from the Past: “Dharma begins with the notion that the relationship between composition and improvisation is circular rather than linear; that each process inspires the other. Dharma furthers our sense that music is conversation: participants [are] free to interject ideas, develop thoughts or move on as they wish to the next topic.” Are you with us so far? Trumpeter Walter Blanton’s compositions, Sanders adds, are “played in the free spirit of Ornette Coleman.” Luckily, they’re not quite that free, even though one can almost feel Blanton’s septet straining to be “different” without completely turning its back on established chordal and harmonic signposts. The result is an album of earnest post–bop Jazz that is freer than some but hardly groundbreaking or radical. At least one number, “Variations,” was, we are told by Blanton, improvised on the spot following drummer Roy James’s feature, “Roy’s Toys,” but on the whole it seems no more careless or unrehearsed than anything else on the menu. The problem I’ve always had with improvisations that “flow from the structure and melody” is that most of them aren’t worth hearing. There’s some admirable blowing on this date, especially by James and bassist Kevin Thomas, but none of the solos causes any sparks to fly. Alto Phil Wigfall is the most frequently heard, and the most adventurous (although the usually more temperate Stefan Karlsson gives him a run for his money on “Voyage from the Past”). Blanton wrote everything except “Variations” and Coleman’s “Lorraine” and “Una Moy Bonita” (played “as one,” it says, although “Bonita” follows “Lorraine” medley–style) and he explains the rationale behind each of them in the liner notes. Dharma means, among other things, “the duty of being true to one’s self,” and no one can doubt that Blanton and his companions are shouldering that responsibility. The question is, does a “circular rather than linear relationship” between composition and improvisation promise a pleasant musical experience, an issue that listeners must inevitably resolve for themselves. This listener was unmoved, but there’s only one of me; others may find Dharma far more agreeable.

Contact: TNC Jazz, 1350 E. Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, NV 89119. Phone 702–457–3823; fax 702–457–0199. Web site, www.tncmusic.net; e–mail khanlon@lvcm.com


Title: Voyage from the Past | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: TNC Recordings


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Slægt CD/LP/Track Review Slægt
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 24, 2017
Read An Eye on the Future CD/LP/Track Review An Eye on the Future
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 24, 2017
Read Cherry ‎– Sakura CD/LP/Track Review Cherry ‎– Sakura
by John Sharpe
Published: September 24, 2017
Read Blow, Strike & Touch CD/LP/Track Review Blow, Strike & Touch
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 24, 2017
Read Elusive CD/LP/Track Review Elusive
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 23, 2017
Read Transitions CD/LP/Track Review Transitions
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: September 23, 2017
Read "Festen" CD/LP/Track Review Festen
by John Sharpe
Published: November 12, 2016
Read "Second Act" CD/LP/Track Review Second Act
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 23, 2017
Read "Sunshine! Quartet" CD/LP/Track Review Sunshine! Quartet
by Glenn Astarita
Published: June 13, 2017
Read "Migration Blues" CD/LP/Track Review Migration Blues
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 26, 2017
Read "Inside The Moment" CD/LP/Track Review Inside The Moment
by James Nadal
Published: June 21, 2017
Read "Jorg Schippa's Kiosk" CD/LP/Track Review Jorg Schippa's Kiosk
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 24, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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