The septet of trumpeter Dennis Gonzales with saxophonists Charles Brackeen & Michael Session, trombonist Kim Corbet, cellist Michael Kruge, Henry Franklin on bass and Alvin Fielder on drums.
Gonzalez, Dennis New Dallasangeles
The Desert Wind
Released in: Sweden
"I know where I'm weak, so I deliberately work with those weaknesses that I have and that's why my music sounds the way it does."
I am hearing this, though not quite believing it, from a friend who sits just inches from me in a crisp, white shirt, and a dark silk tie. His name is Dennis Gonzalez. We're sharing lunch at a modest Dallas restaurant a couple of miles from where he will be teaching in about an hour. Earlier, Gonzalez and his Mariachi band class were preparing for performances in the citywide celebrations of Cinco de Mayo, a patriotic Mexican holiday.
We've crossed paths in this city so many times before, but today we get to talk. His long black hair dangles as he leans forward to see me swallow what he is saying. "I point them out," he says, "because I'm a human being." He laughs at my surprise. "I have weaknesses. We all have weaknesses." He is still laughing. It is this laugh that is one of his finest assets and I, too, am now smiling broadly.
Perhaps he oversimplifies, but he is not feigning modesty. It's simply his own analysis of his life's work thus far. An interesting angle considering the coverage of this man's artistic reach. He is famous for building his own expressive outlets in a city famous for its slow cultural growth. Twelve years ago, he, along with pianist Art Lande, established the Dallas Association for Avant-Garde and Neo-Impressionistic Music (daagnim), a new music collective inspired by Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). Since its inception, daagnim has become the tap root for original music in Dallas, spawning numerous workshops and concerts; a nine-piece large ensemble (The daagnim Theoretical Big Band), his Dallas-New Orleans-Jackson (Mississippi) double quartet, New Dallas-Orleanssippi; his Yugoslav New Music Workshop Orchestra; and a record company through which 21 major projects have reached production and distribution. The latest production, recorded live at Caravan of Dreams, features British guitarist Mark Hewins with Gonzalez's Dallas-London Quartet and a special guest, Canterbury bassist Richard Sinclair. And all along the way he has been attracting an increasingly solid American and European following.
It was Keith Knox who first gave Dennis an outside lead to an international audience. Knox planned on launching a Swedish record company dedicated to recording the new American jazz. Subsequently, Silkheart Records debuted in 1917 with Stefan, featuring the Dennis Gonzalez New Dallas Quartet.
The Desert Wind is now the fourth album on Silkheart with Dennis Gonzalez out front, and this time he presents New Dallas Angeles. Specifically, that's Alvin Fielder from Jackson; Kim Corbet and Michael Kruge, formerly of the Theoretical Big Band; and Henry Franklin, Michael Session, and labelmate Charles Brackeen - all from Los Angeles; and all serve him well.
For instance, on Hymn for Julius Hemphill, let Kruge's cello be the first clue to prepare you for what's coming. When Brackeen comes in, get ready to fly. And from Horace Tapscott's L.A. ensemble comes Michael Session, bringing buoyancy and color to the compositions, especially Aamriq'aa.
The difference in Gonzalez's composition is compassion, and it's evident on The Desert Wind. Its smooth opening is compassion charted, and from there we follow Brackeen to the leader. Then it's more compassion which separates Session and Fielder and then brings them together in the end. All have artful solos.
Getting inside Dennis' music merely involves recognizing his individuality and appreciating the strength of character that makes up the sound. A sound which is, by the way, a fresh, invigorating blend of international influences. World music. Gonzalez points to Don Cherry and to European trumpet masters Enrico Rava, Tomasz Stanko, and Manfred Schoof, and he also credits the Beatles for their open-minded sense of expression. He really does find inspiration in almost anything. He is a student of the world's many cultures. In his travels he has collected well over one hundred musical instruments, become fluent in half a dozen languages, and all of it seems to seep in somehow. He and Brackeen are planning to record together again in the near future - another musical and spiritual collaboration between friends.
Our noontime visit is at an end and I reflect on the men I've come to know a little bit better. Dennis Gonzalez and myself."-Chris Douridas, from the liner notes
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Catalog ID: SHCD 124
Squidco Product Code: 16283
Packaging: Jewel Tray
Recorded by Paul Christensen at Omega Audio and Productions, Dallas, Texas on April 3rd and 11th, 1989.
Dennis Gonzalez-conductor, Bb trumpet, C trumpet, pocket trumpet
Charles Brackeen-soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone
Michael Session-soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone
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1. Hymn For Julius Hemphill 14:15
2. Aamriq'aa 11:11
3. The Desert Wind (The Breath Of Jehovah) 18:45
4. Battalion Of Saints 5:24
5. Max-Well 10:55