Veteran British saxophonist Paul Dunmall helms a crew of talented graduates from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire on Yes Tomorrow. It's the second time they have appeared on disc with him in a unit as all four were part of the sextet responsible for Cosmic Dream Projection (FMR, 2021). While renowned as a peerless free improviser, Dunmall also composes, here presenting eight original compositions. Even though the majority incorporate accessible riff-based heads, sometimes evoking the spiritual jazz of his one-time employer Alice Coltrane, he injects copious attention-grabbing variation into arrangements which consequently provide abundant opportunity for the band to dig in.
The lively interaction within the group is one of the big pluses of this set, whether that be the conjoining of Dunmall's emotionally expressive tenor and Steven Saunders' prickly fretwork on the earthy "Medgar Evers," which reminds that another of the reedman's early jobs was touring with funk best-seller Johnny "Guitar" Watson, or the way in which James Owston's accomplished and flexible bass seems to second guess Saunders' moves atop drummer Jim Bashford's clattery undercurrents on the opening "Micromys Minutus."
Dunmall proves a characteristically generous leader, taking no more solo space than anyone else. Like others, his features often develop almost organically out of the writing, ensuring a satisfying level of cohesion. While Richard Foote's trombone rounds out the front line, adding a blustery presence whose broad smears thicken the polyphony, it is often Saunders who delivers the most incisive contributions. He certainly has plenty to say in his unaccompanied intro to "Parrots," where his jagged line leads into the country blues theme.
After a spirited program, the album closes on an elegiac note with "Every Soul," as Dunmall steps out alone. At first he is restrained, churchy and melodic, but gradually the feeling oozing from his soliloquy becomes ever more prominent, as he crowns his flickering runs with keening cries, fashioning a impassioned climax before the balm of an understated end.
Micromys Minutus; Medgar Evers; Cosmic Communion; Drum; Parrots; Golden Age; Yes Tomorrow; Every Soul.
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