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Steve Coleman 's University continues to spawn musical alumni of the highest order. It's no coincidence that recent releases by Ralph Alessi , Ravi Coltrane , Matt Garrison , Gene Lake , and Vijay Iyer have been rhythmatic thrill rides - there's simply no choice in the matter after having dealt with all that Coleman is dealing. A simplistic take? Assuredly so, as each one of these and now, keyboardist Andy Milne, adds their own, sometimes far removed, spin on the M-Base basis.
On that tip, Milne pulls off the neat trick here of reinventing and extending his own thing, which he has been developing thus far on two indie releases . Milne has emphasized the value and importance of nurturing his own touring and recording unit, DAPP Theory . There have been US and European mini-tours, Canadian and US residencies and lots of New York dates to get the band ready for flight. So with record label deal in hand, what was the next step? A collaboration - with fellow Toronto native and socio-political folk icon Bruce Cockburn . This choice may seem way out in left field; ironically, more for those who know Milne's work better than Cockburn's. The vocalist's impressive and inspiring discography is soaked in an ocean of influence, not only literary and political, but ethnic and world-musical, which only enriches the the full-on dialogue and adventurous commitment evident here.
This band hits their own groove, an easier-to-latch-onto analog of Coleman's thing, relentlessly hard, as exemplified on "In the Moment," which provides a sterling intro to the theory of Dapp. Not coincidentally, the cut features the linearity, angularity and sheer explosiveness of fellow Coleman "Element" and guest guitarist David Gilmore , whose 2000 release, Ritualism flanks Dapp's in groove-power and execution. This cut also features synth lines doubled by Gregoire Maret (who's done recent dates with Coleman's band) on harmonica, lending the odd-time funk a decidedly fuzoid bent. Listen to drummer Sean Rickman (another late-period Coleman associate) and bassist Rich Brown 's amazing hookup as the tune progresses. Rickman simultaneously executes athletic sprays on the kit while grooving in meter between Brown's one-ton thump and elastic snap (an M-Base Marcus, as it were). Throughout,these two prove themselves consistently dazzling purveyors of the monster-groove.
Cockburn rides Dapp's wave and Milne's music throughout "Trickle Down," extemporizing on a politico-economic catch phrase that in retrospect, could have been used by a singer-songwriter long ago, but resonates perhaps more powerfully now. Another collaborator, rapper/vocalist Kokayi, adds his own take and wordplay to current affairs, while Carla Cook, along with Milne and Rickman (both able vocalists), harmonize to create a Steely Dan-esque chorale on the refrain. In the middle comes an acoustic ride from Milne, providing propulsion and movement while executed with relaxed sophistication. But it's "Everywhere Dance" that tugs most strongly on the heartstrings, with Maret's squeezed off phrases and acoustic bass setting up a poignant atmosphere that gently cradles Cockburn's affecting alliterative, swarming with multitudes of meaning, feeling and purpose.
Then there's Dapp's 15 minute "Patterns of Form/Only Clave" groove opus, featuring fire, then fireworks, from Brown and Rickman, and a thrilling conversation between Milne's left and right hands on his electric piano solo, dense with the entire history of Rhodes styles. There's the heavier groove of "Bermuda Triangle," "Why 2 K" paranoia and a gorgeous, downtempo take of Diz's "Con Alma" featuring a long lyrical statement by Maret, who plays his instrument throughout as can only a handful of folks on the planet. This substantial disc, packed with musical power that bears repeated listening, should bear dividends for the previously more easily pigeonholed Concord Records .
Track Listing: 1. Trickle Down, 2.Neoparadeigma, 3. In the Moment, 4. Con Alma, 5. Bermuda Triangle, 6.
Everywhere Dance, 7. Patterns of Force, 8.Only Clave, 9. Bad Air, 10. Why 2 K, 11. Lullaby
Personnel: Andy Milne- piano, keys and vocals (1), Gregoire Maret-harmonica, San Rickman- Drums, vocals
(1,11), Rich Brown-bass, Featuring: Bruce Cockburn- vocals (1,6,9) and guitar (1,9), Kokayi- vocals
(1,5,8,9,10), with: Mark Prince-drums (1,9), David Gilmore-guitar (3), Carla Cook -background
vocals (1), Vinia Mojica -background vocals (9), Vashon Johnson-acoustic bass (6),Rich Lazar-
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.