Whit Dickey – Sacred Ground (CF 057)
Alvin Fielder Trio – A Measure of Vision (CF 071)
Drummer Alvin Fielder is a founding member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and played on Roscoe Mitchell’s first release Sound (Delmark, 1966). A Measure of Vision is his first release as a leader and is moody and meditative, like an old Miles record but with that polished sound for which ECM releases are known. Pianist Chris Parker’s playing ranges from melodic to cluster chords á la Cecil Taylor and brings the music into a more modern light as opposed to Dennis Gonzalez’ somber trumpet, which is reminiscent of visionary ‘60s recordings. Not much swing here but the contrast of Parker against the solemn Gonzalez is worth several listens. There are two wonderful examples of this: “Your sons and daughters shall prophesy” and “Your old men shall dream dreams”.
On Sacred Ground, an album by another progressively-leaning drummer in Whit Dickey, three of the five tracks follow a traditional head-solo-head format. But don’t let this fool you, the sound is anything but traditional. The melodies are short and complex and bring to mind the precision of Frank Zappa or Henry Threadgill. The duets between Rob Brown (alto) and Roy Campbell (trumpet) crackle with energy. Campbell’s timing is slightly behind Brown and it creates just enough space between the two that you clearly hear both soloing during their duets. This separation allows Brown the freedom to explore more free areas. On “Vital Transmission” Brown pushes the ensemble further and further into free areas. The duets between Dickey and Joe Morris’ bass are fast and intense with the edge going to Dickey.
The disc’s aesthetic is evenly split between uptempo tracks and slower, moody pieces that begin with nice drum solos. Dickey’s playing on the latter tracks takes on a hypnotic march-like rhythm that allows Campbell and Brown to explore more loose areas as on the fifth track, “Dream of Caravans”.