New York bassist and composer Devin Gray leads the quartet of Ellery Eskelin on tenor sax, Dave Ballou on trumpet, and Michael Formanek also on bass, playing 8 original compositions of melodic creative jazz.
Released in: USA
"In today's crowded jazz market, it's an achievement to come up with a signature group sound. And yet, this is just one of the wonderful things immediately apparent on Devin Gray's Dirigo Rataplan. An amazing percussionist, Gray's stunningly detailed playing sounds like a cross between Fritz Hauser and Roy Haynes.
He flashes some serious compositional chops as well. Dirigo Rataplan is comprised of eight bright, restless originals that are complex and intimate, brainy and engaging, and occasionally a bit outré. Making all of this great music come alive is Gray's phenomenal quartet. Saxophonist Ellery Eskelin and trumpeter Dave Ballou are a formidable front line, and both are absolutely at the tops of their respective games here. Eskelin marvelously dissolves the rambunctious abstract funk of "Cancel The Cancel" into a foggy landscape of whispers and questions. Like Eskelin, Ballou has a lush sound and a seemingly endless wealth of ideas. His solo on "Down Time" is beautifully constructed, rising from the melody like a raven taking flight. Michael Formanek is another great choice-a veteran bassist who's played a similar sort of advanced, creative jazz for decades in his own bands, as well as those led by saxophonist Tim Berne and pianist Uri Caine.
"Quadraphonically" may be the disc's most radical track. Inspired by bird song, melodies and rhythms intertwine. Gray's playing here is uncannily tuneful, and Formanek doesn't go anywhere near a traditional jazz bass line, hewing closer to the tune's mercurial melodic content. Still, it grooves like mad, especially as Ballou and Eskelin solo over the explorations of the deeply connected rhythm section. It's a perfect example of the famed Weather Report dictum, "everyone solos and no one solos." Gray is fond of collective improvisations, and nearly all of the pieces feature conversational pairings of different members of the quartet.
This continually shifting sound palette makes for a highly stimulating listen. Though fractured and twisted funk rhythms of various sorts figure prominently on "Cancel the Cancel," "Down Time," and "Talking With Hands," Gray's intent never wavers from the cutting edge. While they access freer, looser rhythmic structures, and darker moods, on "Prospect Park In The Dark," "Thickets," and "Otaku," each of these lovely, brooding pieces is imbued with a relentless forward motion. The closing "Katahdin" is a Berne-like burner that ties all of these elements together in a cogent manner.
As wonderful as the music is, the packaging is not so. Coming in a DVD-sized holder, the largely red, black, and white design seems to have a color or two missing, rendering the track listing and Gray's brief notes on each composition practically illegible. So, put the CD case down, and listen to this beautifully played, impeccably recorded music and be amazed. Every track on this magical CD brims with creativity and inspiration. Dirigo Rataplan is one of this year's very best."-Dave Wayne, All About Jazz
• Show Bio for Devin Gray
"An artist interested in multiple musical directions and one who strives for quality and sincerity in his work. His exciting energy has compelled him towards many different musical directions and projects. Considered by his contemporaries as cutting edge, Gray shows promise as an artist that will not only move the music forward, but one who will share his unique musical vision with the world of music.
Devin Gray's fresh approach to modern drumming has enabled him to play with many of America's great jazz musicians. He has performed and recorded with innovative musicians of contrasting styles and backgrounds such as: David Liebman, Tony Malaby, Gary Thomas, Ingrid Jensen, Dave Burrell, Dave Ballou, Michael Formanek, Nate Wooley, Stephan Crump, George Garzone, Chris Speed, Drew Gress, Sam Rivers, Ralph Alessi, John O'Gallagher, Ellery Eskelin, Kris Davis, Ted Rosenthal, Matt Mitchell, Uri Caine, Andrew D'Angelo, Vardan Ovsepian, Bill McHenry as well as many others.
Devin has been fortunate to perform in many places around the globe and continues to make peace with his audiences. He is a top call young drummer in many modern jazz circles in New York City as well as multiple cities on the East Coast of America. Current leader projects include two quartets: "Dirigo Rataplan" featuring Ellery Eskelin, Dave Ballou, and Michael Formanek, and "RelativE ResonancE" featuring Chris Speed, Kris Davis, and Chris Tordini. He is currently living, playing, and composing in Brooklyn, New York."-http://devingraymusic.com/about (Devin Gray Website)
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NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
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Melodic and Lyrical Jazz
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Shipping Weight: 3.00 units
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Catalog ID: 19
Squidco Product Code: 17484
Packaging: DVD Digipack
Recorded on April 30th, 2011 by Jon Rosenberg at Systems Two, Brooklyn, NY.
Ellery Eskelin-tenor saxophone
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2. Cancel The Cancel
3. Down Time
4. Prospect Park In The Dark
5. Talking With Hands