Saxophonist Paul Dunmall's quintet with Hamid Drake, Dave Kane, Steve Tromans, and Percy Pusgove, bridge traditional with chamber jazz and world music, including a work for bagpipes and frame drum, in a monumental suite of improvisational possibilities.
Dunmall, Paul Quintet
The Dreamtime Suite
Released in: UK
"Although originating with Duke Ellington, and not unique to Britain, there is something of a local tradition of jazz suites for large and small ensembles, going back at least as far as Stan Tracey's Jazz Suite (Inspired by Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood) and Joe Harriott's Indo-Jazz Suite. Often written to commission, such works were continued by, amongst others, Graham Collier, Mike Westbrook, Neil Ardley, Michael Garrick, Kenny Wheeler, John Surman, Elton Dean, Mike Gibbs, Paul Rogers, Colin Townsend and Barry Guy, even John Stevens' Spontaneous Music Ensemble (The Source - From and Towards (Tangent, 1971)). Paul Dunmall has also written works in this genre for his Octet and Sextet, and now we have The Dreamtime Suite, performed at the Lantern Rooms in Bristol in October, 2016 by a group consisting of Dunmall (tenor and alto saxophones, penny whistle, bagpipes), Percy Pursglove (trumpet, bagpipes), Steve Tromans (piano), Dave Kane (double bass) and Hamid Drake (drums, frame drum).
A suite is a diverse collection of pieces to be played in a set order, usually unified or linked by a story, subject or theme, in this case a portrayal of the flux and flow of our dream experiences, which can jumble the events of our waking lives. As Lewis Carroll depicted, it's a topsy-turvy world in which the little becomes large and vice versa. Duration as felt in sleep can telescope - what seems to take place on an epic scale might in reality last just a few minutes, or it can take forever to walk up a flight of stairs. It's a notion ideally suited to improvisation, and like chains of association, each piece morphs into the next with no clear division.
The suite opens with 'Dreamtime', a breezy, ebullient theme. Little by little, the instruments desynchronize around solos for tenor, trumpet and piano, the tune becoming more diffuse as it's continually stretched, eventually snapping as everyone chips in to create their own pointillist rendition. This becomes the opening of 'Warning', with successive solos for trumpet - which repeats and reconstitutes a phrase, as if being chased in circles - saxophone - the phrase undergoes irregular chops and changes, never settling - and piano, where it takes a Monkish turn, with parallel hands spinning out ever longer lines. Ending with a flourish and repeated notes from Tromans, we're then into 'Call an Elephant' with a reversal of register: Dunmall on penny whistle playing a tune with a Gaelic twist, joined by Pursglove's bagpipes, where it takes on an Eastern flavour over drone bass. When played on trumpet and piano it becomes more plangent, then abstract on alto saxophone and scuttling piano, followed by a whirligig of deconstructed scraps for the whole ensemble. There's a passage for understated bass (the converse of most bass solos) and a melody on piano, more suggested than explicit, gradually growing in body and sparkle, supported by Drake's elasticated drum patterns and rolls.
'Frame Drum and Bagpipes' begins with...you've guessed it, in a melange of different folk music over Drake's hypnotic pulse, then contorted figurations on the piano's interior and bass, plus daubs of trumpet breath. From this, the bouncy 'It Dawned on Me' materialises, a straight-ahead piece which grows and then dissipates into skeletal piano and tremolos, the foundation for the closing 'Sacred Hymn' - the same theme as concludes Underground Underground - this time delivered as a rousing gospel tune with flickering piano runs, as we emerge reassuringly, into daylight.
A nicely balanced and satisfying collection, with no obvious interpretation - but that's the point - and proving that there's nothing trivial about the play of our imaginations."-Colin Green, Free Jazz Blog
• Show Bio for Dave Kane
"Composer/ Bassist Dave Kane was born in a small town called Bangor in County Down in Northern Ireland. At age 16 he bought an electric bass guitar from a catholic priest for 50 pounds, and began moving his fingers up and down the ' E ' string in local punk and alternative bands. With aspirations of eventually playing on the other 3 strings of the bass, Kane began studying music at a local college with the internationally acclaimed composer and bandleader Brian Irvine. As a direct result of hanging out with Irvine, Kane began to explore the idioms of free improvisation, contemporary jazz, classical music, funk, metal, red wine and general mayhem! Further exploration was required, so Kane rowed across the irish channel on his double bass and studied Contemporary music (essay writing!) at Bretton Hall College of the University of Leeds.
Unfortunately there were no influential teachers there like Irvine, so he learnt how to use a library and subsequently encountered the music of John Cage, Edgar Varese, Cecil Taylor, Barry Guy, John Coltrane, Iannis Xenakis, Charles Mingus, Frank Zappa and John Zorn. Upon graduating from University Kane lived and worked in London for a while trying to get his 'shit together' and playing free music with some British Jazz legends including; Keith Tippett, Paul Dunmall, Elton Dean, Evan Parker, Tony Levin, Mark Sanders, Paul Rogers, Alex Maguire and many other heads! Currently based in Leeds, Kane is a founder member of L.I.M.A. (Leeds Improvised Music Association) and the musical director/ composer for the L.I.M.A orchestra. An ever expanding large improv orchestra featuring some of the UK's finest young musicians inc, Matthew Bourne, Chris Sharkey, Christophe De Bezenac, Petter Fadnes. Other projects include; The internationally acclaimed Bourne/ Davis/ Kane. Dave Kane ( solo double bass + voice ). The Shank Trio (featuring saxophonist James Allsopp and drummer Tim Giles). Didrik Ingvaldsen's Quartet Alpha. Dave Kane's Rabbit Project."-Dave Kane Website (http://www.davekanemusic.com/dave-kane/)
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• Show Bio for Hamid Drake
"Hamid Drake (born August 3, 1955) is an American jazz drummer and percussionist. He lives in Chicago, IL but spends a great deal of time touring worldwide. By the close of the 1990s, Hamid Drake was widely regarded as one of the best percussionists in jazz and avant improvised music. Incorporating Afro-Cuban, Indian, and African percussion instruments and influence, in addition to using the standard trap set, Drake has collaborated extensively with top free-jazz improvisers. Drake also has performed world music; by the late 70s, he was a member of Foday Musa Suso's Mandingo Griot Society and has played reggae throughout his career.
Drake has worked with trumpeter Don Cherry, pianist Herbie Hancock, saxophonists Pharoah Sanders, Fred Anderson, Archie Shepp and David Murray and bassists Reggie Workman and William Parker (in a large number of lineups)
He studied drums extensively, including eastern and Caribbean styles. He frequently plays without sticks; using his hands to develop subtle commanding undertones. His tabla playing is notable for his subtlety and flair. Drake's questing nature and his interest in Caribbean percussion led to a deep involvement with reggae."-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamid_Drake)
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• Show Bio for Steve Tromans
"Steve Tromans is a pianist and composer working in the interrelated fields of jazz and improvised music. He has released a total of 18 albums to date, given in the region of 6,000 performances in the UK, Europe, and internationally, and composed over 100 works. In recent years he has been undertaking philosophical research via the modes of music performance in jazz and improvising music, and is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Birmingham City University. In 2014, he received publication in Artistic Experimentation in Music : An Anthology (Leuven, Leuven Press), and has had articles printed in The Swedish Journal of Musicology, and Performance Research. For further information on Tromans' various music-making projects."-Epistrophy (http://www.epistrophy.fr/myth-progress-and-motion-in-jazz.html?lang=fr)
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• Show Bio for Paul Dunmall
"Paul Dunmall was born 1953, Welling, Kent; saxophones, clarinets, bagpipes, miscellaneous wind instruments.
As told to Watson (1989), Paul Dunmall was a working class lad from Welling who left school at 15 and spent two years repairing instruments at Bill Lewington's shop in Shaftesbury Avenue, London. He turned professional at 17 and, following two years touring Europe with a progressive rock band (Marsupilami), joined the Divine Light Mission, a spiritual movement led by Guru Maharaj Ji and moved from London to an ashram in America. He told Isham (1997), 'I moved to an ashram full of musicians - a music ashram - but it was still spiritual practice. That gave me a spiritual understanding through meditation, Coltrane's music, and all the rest of it, led me to that, and that's been a fundament in my life ever since - that I can actually sit down and meditate and forget my body. I realise how important meditation is in my life... but I don't do it so much these days.' During the three years he lived in America, Dunmall played with Alice Coltrane (in a big band with the Divine Light Mission) and toured for twelve months with Johnny 'Guitar' Watson.
Back in England, he played with Danny Thompson and John Stevens as well as folk musicians Kevin Dempsey, Martin Jenkins and Polly Bolton and then, in 1979 he became a founder member of Spirit Level (Tim Richards, piano; Paul Anstey, bass; Tony Orrell, drums), staying with the group until 1989. During his time with Spirit Level, Dunmall joined the two-tenor front line group Tenor Tonic with Alan Skidmore (1985), played and broadcast with Dave Alexander and Tony Moore in the DAM trio (1986) and formed the Paul Dunmall Quartet with Alex Maguire, Tony Moore and Steve Noble (1986).
In 1987 Paul Dunmall joined the London Jazz Composers Orchestra, being a constant member and appearing on all their recorded output from that date onward. The following year the improvising collective quartet Mujician was formed by Keith Tippett, Dunmall, Paul Rogers and Tony Levin and has continued to be a regular performing, touring and recording group, sometimes augmented by other musicians. Dunmall has also played in a trio with Keith and Julie Tippetts and in Keith Tippett's big band Tapestry. Two other duos have also sprung out of Mujician: Dunmall with Tony Levin (two CD releases) and Dunmall in folk-influenced outings with Paul Rogers. Another regular playing partner throughout this period and up until the present includes Elton Dean.
In 1995, two trios were formed, the first with Oren Marshall, tuba and Steve Noble, percussion, the second with John Adams, guitar and Mark Sanders, percussion, these sometimes coming together as a quintet. More recently, Dunmall has played in another reeds/guitar/drums trio with Philip Gibbs and Tony Marsh and there appears to be regular crossover between all these players. The Paul Dunmall Octet was founded in 1997."
Dunmall also has released a large number of albums and a box set on the UK FMR label, in various configurations and instrumentation.-EFI (http://www.efi.group.shef.ac.uk/musician/mdunmall.html)
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• Show Bio for Percy Pursglove
"After graduating from the Birmingham Conservatoire's BMus(Hons) Jazz course with first class honours, I received a scholarship to study on the Jazz and Contemporary Music Program at the New School University, New York City. During my time living in New York I performed with ensembles including The Duke Ellington Orchestra at Birdland, The Coltrane ensemble and the Rene Marie Big Band at Town Hall, and with Matt Brewer and Tommy Crane at The Knitting Factory.
I am now working as a freelance Jazz musician/composer/arranger/recording artist (Trumpet/Double Bass) Since 2005 I have been lecturing in Jazz at the Birmingham Conservatoire senior and junior departments, I also have a roles as director of the National Youth Jazz Wales, tutor for National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland/National Youth Jazz Collective, music for youth mentor and improvisation clinician for Wales Music Teachers Federation.
I am also the artistic co-director of Harmonic Festival, producing and promoting two successful and adventurous jazz festivals in Birmingham in recent years.
I have featured in a number of performances aired on BBC Radio's Jazz on Three including live concerts with Alex Hawkins, Peter Evans, Paul Dunmall, Elliott Sharpe and a number of radio and televised concerts with the WDR Radio Big Band, Koln. I was a featured in Jazzwise magazine's 'Taking Off' interview. Recent musical highlights include performing Gil Evans Sketches of Spain with the Birmingham Conservatoire Jazz Orchestra and playing Trumpet for Evan Parker's 70th birthday celebration, Kings Place.
Some of the most prominent artists I have performed and recorded with include:
Claudia Quintet, Food with Thomas Stronen/Iain Ballamy, Bill Frissell, Paul Dunmall, Peter Evans, Jon Irabagon, Hans Koller, Dan Weiss, Matt Brewer, Michael Gibbs, Thomas Morgan, John Hollenbeck, Mark Dresser, Victor Bailey, Drew Gress, Ben Monder, Phil Woods, Claudio Roditi, Jeff Williams, Chris Speed, Matt Mitchell, Evan Parker, Jakob Bro, Elliott Sharpe, Vince Mendoza, Peter Erskine, Django Bates, Steve Swallow, Chris Potter, John O'gallagher, Gerald Clayton, John Clayton, Dave Liebman, Dave Holland and Norma Winstone.
For the past twelve months, I have also been a Jazzlines/Jerwood Foundation fellow, hosted at Town Hall-Symphony Hall Birmingham. This has allowed me to compose a new work written for octet and eight-voice choir - 'Far Reaching Dreams of Mortal Souls' - based on speeches and associated works of iconic figures through history. This will premiere in October, where I will perform alongside Julian Arguelles, Paul Clarvis, Hans Koller, Michael Janisch, James Allsop, Jim Rattigan plus choir.
I hold honorary membership (Hons BC) to the Birmingham Conservatoire in recognition of services to music."-Percy Pursglove Website (http://www.percypursglove.com/about/)
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Recorded at Lantern Room, Colston Hall, In Bristol, United Kingdom, on October 5th, 2016, by Chris Trent.
Dave Kane-double bass
Hamid Drake-drums, frame drum
Paul Dunmall-tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, tin whistle, bagpipes
Percy Pursglove-trumpet, bagpipes
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1. Dreamtime 9:12
2. Warning 9:38
3. Call An Elephant 14:55
4. Frame Drum And Bagpipes 6:39
5. It Dawned On Me 5:19
6. Sacred Hymn 7:30