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Dickey, Whit Trio (w/ Rob Brown / Brandon Lopez): Expanding Light (Tao Forms)

The long-running collaboration of NY drummer Whit Dickey and alto saxophonist Rob Brown is joined by relative newcomer, bassist Brad Lopez, in this new trio performing original Whit Dickey compositions that fuel extraordinary collective improvisation, a hard-blowing band that unleashes their controlled creativity in a cycle of six pieces reflecting the power of the universe.

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product information:

UPC: 642623800225

Label: Tao Forms
Catalog ID: TAO 002CD
Squidco Product Code: 29126

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2020
Country: USA
Packaging: Digipack
Recorded at Park West Studios, in Brooklyn, New York, on November 18th, 2019, by Jim Clouse.


Whit Dickey-drums

Rob Brown-alto saxophone

Brandon Lopez-bass

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Artist Biographies:

"Whit Dickey (born May 28, 1954, New York City) is a free jazz drummer. He has recorded albums as a bandleader, with David S. Ware, Matthew Shipp and others.

Free jazz drummer Whit Dickey first stepped into the spotlight as a leader with the release of his Transonic album from Aum Fidelity in 1998. Two years later, Wobbly Rail issued his Big Top release. Previously, he was best known for his solid work with Matthew Shipp and David S. Ware, with whom Dickey split in 1996. Early the following year, the drummer began composing the works that would be included on Transonic. Dickey penned all but two songs, "Kinesis" and "Second Skin," on the collection, and he even had a hand in those with the help of his fellow musicians on the album. The original compositions give a nod to the influence of "Criss Cross" and "Off Minor" from the legendary Thelonious Monk. Dickey recorded the album with the aid of Rob Brown on flute and alto saxophone, and Chris Lightcap on bass. In 2001, Dickey recorded half a dozen of his compositions with Mat Maneri, Shipp, and Brown under the name Nommonsemble, and put out Life Cycle through Aum Fidelity.

Whit Dickey made a name for himself as the former drummer of David S. Ware's famous quartet. Since then Dickey's musical contributions have gone well beyond his work as Ware's drummer. He is capable of tremendous power and yet has the ability for subtle gesture. Dickey is a composer as well as a drummer and his music has reached new heights in his recent small group work, with a coterie of great musicians including alto saxophonist Rob Brown. He has been performing with Matthew Shipp since 1991 and continues to play and record with Roy Campbell Jr., Mat Maneri, Chris Lightcap and many others. Since 2007 Dickey has been focussing on developing an integrative improvisational style while working with Shipp's Trio.

Daniel Carter and Dickey recorded an album pianist Eri Yamamoto in 2008.

The album Art of the Improvisor from The Matthew Shipp Trio received much critical acclaim and was listed as one of the year's best of 2011. Dickey has started a cooperative unit with Sabir Mateen & Michael Bisio, which is another example of post- Coltrane integral unity, and is call Blood Trio.

Shipp, Bisio and Dickey have also been working with Ivo Perelman in various configurations."

-Wikipedia (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Rob Brown (born February 27, 1962) is an American free jazz saxophonist and composer.

Rob was born in Hampton, VA. He started playing saxophone at the age of 12 or 13. His first gigs were with a local Virginia and swing band. He eventually studied at Berklee College for two years and worked privately with both Joe Viola and John LaPorta. After a year on the west coast, Brown bounced back to Boston, where he met pianist Matthew Shipp. He moved to NY in 1984 where he enrolled at New York University, earned a music degree, and studied with saxophone masters such as Lee Konitz, but the teacher who had more influence on Rob conceptually was Philadelphian Dennis Sandole. Rob took the train to Philly once a week to study with him for a year and a half.

His first issued recording was the duet with Shipp Sonic Explorations and since then has been actively leading groups or working as a sideman with Shipp, William Parker, Whit Dickey, Joe Morris and Steve Swell.

He is a 2001 CalArts/Alpert/Ucross Residency Prize winner and has received many Meet The Composer Fund grants. In 2006 Rob was awarded a Chamber Music America New Works grant."

-Wikipedia (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"[..] Composer/bassist, Brandon A. Lopez, deemed "The Ubiquitous Free Improv Bass Ace" by the Village Voice and said to play with a "Bruising Physicality" by the Chicago reader.

He was born and raised in the splendors of Northwestern New Jersey, in the shadow of the (New York) city. It was there that he cultivated a taste for the left of center musics and subsequently, dug graves.

He's had the pleasures of working with many of the world's luminary weirdos. Here's a list: Nate Wooley, William Parker, Chris Corsano, Justice Yeldham, Weasel Walter, Peter Evans, Tyshawn Sorey, Gerald Cleaver, Ingrid Laubrock, Tom Rainey, Tony Malaby, Paul Lytton, Mette Rasmussen, Jooklo Duo, Michael Foster, Leila Bordreuil, Jaimie Branch, Joe Morris, Brandon Seabrook, Cactus Truck, John Dykeman, Daniel Carter, and many others.

He's currently leads a trio dubbed "The Mess", another one called the Brandon Lopez Trio, works as a soloist and is formerly/currently/latterly writing more and more music. He may play some it sometime soon (see "gigs").

He attended New England Conservatory."

-Brandon Lopez Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.
track listing:

1. The Outer Edge 9:15

2. Desert Flower 8:00

3. Plateau 9:31

4. Expanding Light 13:30

5. Mobius 7:47

6. The Opening 5:14
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Free improvisation is as much an act of discovery as of creation. On their breathtaking debut the new Whit Dickey Trio shines their collective illumination into the heretofore unexplored darkness between them. The album teams the drummer with one of his most long-standing collaborators in saxophonist Rob Brown & for the first time with the young firebrand bassist Brandon Lopez, in what is certainly hoped will be an ongoing communion.

The light and the dark, intimate friends and fresh relations - these are a few of the dualities embodied by the new recording label, Tao Forms. This second release by the label continues the creative renaissance which drummer Whit Dickey embarked on with his stunning 2019 double-album by the Tao Quartets: Peace Planet -&- Box of Light, a Yin and Yang pairing of two distinct ensembles.

Expanding Light is an exercise in going full-bore Yang. Dickey described the experience of recording with his new trio as "incessantly and mightily grabbing the dragon by the tail, and not caring." In other words, losing oneself to intangible inspiration, wherever it may lead. The result maintains a visceral ferocity even at its most abstract moments, influenced as much by Nirvana at their finest as by the holistic experimentation of Dickey's mentor, Professor Milford Graves. Of course, the Yin - the Expanding Light of the title - inevitably follows in the trio's wake...

Dickey & Brown have worked together for over 30 years, forging an instinctual chemistry while still managing to surprise one another with a mutual penchant for risk-taking. Though Lopez was born a year before Dickey and Brown began playing together, he proved an ideal partner for the drummer in the low end of the Yang. Lopez has become a force on numerous NYC scenes in recent years, his relentless fervor and formidable power have led to collaborations in the realms of classical, jazz and experimental music with the likes of John Zorn, Tyshawn Sorey, Chris Potter, and the New York Philharmonic under Jaap van Zweden."-Tao Forms

"A new chapter of sorts has opened up in the long career of avant-jazz drummer Whit Dickey. In the prior month, he launched a new record label Tao Forms with the first release coming from his longtime former bandleader Matthew Shipp. The second entry in the Tao Forms discography is coming from Dickey himself when he releases Expanding Light on June 12, 2020.

The other new beginning for Dickey is his new trio that has Rob Brown from his Tao Quartet on alto sax and a relatively fresh face on bass, Brandon Lopez. Expanding Light is a spiritual title, fittingly coming from a spiritual drummer. Dickey's drumming is technically advanced but what sets him apart from most of his peers is that it also ranks high on the metaphysical scale, too.

With only a sax and bass at Dickey's side, Expanding Light opens the window further on the hidden details in his drumming, even when the leader is not explicitly out front. "The Outer Edge" generates excitement first by Dickey soloing behind Brown and then Lopez entering the fray introducing 4/4 time that fails to sway the other two, setting up creative conflict. When a Dickey spotlight ends, Lopez returns with a slower tempo and this time the others follow along, even when he hastens toward the ending.

Lopez is quickly establishing as a bassist to pay attention to; he steps out front for "Desert Flower," spinning a bass narrative in commanding fashion with as Dickey lays down some of the most muscular brushes you're likely to hear. When they are finally enjoined by Brown, Dickey goes for the sticks and Lopez settles into a rumbling groove. The bassist saws through "Plateau," defining harmonic parameters for Brown to ponder while Dickey establishes ever-changing moods.

"Expanding Light" is the powerful product of the thirty-plus years Dickey and Brown have spent playing together, playing freely but with purpose and unity. What's more amazing is that Lopez is performing like he's been playing with them for that long as well. The bassist uses his bow to engage directly with Brown on "Mobius" as Dickey deftly uses cymbals to create a sound vapor around them and reset the pace.

Brown's most urgent playing is saved for "The Opening," and he spends nearly the full five minutes wailing with an emotional impact supported by the controlled turbulence of the rhythm section."-S. Victor Aaron, Something Else Reviews

Get additional information at Something Else!
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Improvised Music
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