Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci



DENNIS GONZÁLEZ NY QUARTET AT TONIC – Dance of the soothsayer’s tongue (CF 094)

This record was born from a rescued 34-minute tape of a performance that Dennis González (trumpets), Ellery Eskelin (tenor sax), Mark Helias (contrabass) and Michael T.A. Thompson (soundrhythium percussionist) delivered at the now dormant New York’s Tonic in the August of 2003 complemented by a studio recording from 2004, directly inspired by the previous year’s set. The whole can be considered as a homage to that historic site, which in 2007 was forced to closure due to the excessive raise of the rents in the Lower East Side. González doesn’t play too much yet he makes sure that every note counts heavily, the timbre softly scorching, the phrases always puzzling under simple dresses seamed with economy and intelligence. Indeed, this music might appear as deceptively skeletal, all the instrumentalists seemingly taking ideas from patterns and shapes that frequently get thoroughly disintegrated, ending their regular life in the clamour of scarcely controllable rituals. The most prominent presence as far as this writer’s feeling is concerned is Thompson’s – probably the true protagonist of the large part of the disc – who is often left free in expressing a total command of the anarchic mathematics of drumming in lengthy solo spots. Eskelin symbolizes the intricacies of jazz more than anyone else here, his reversible logic at the basis of smouldering fragments of lyricism camouflaged as blowing fuses. Helias’ bass is strong-armed and long-ranged, shouting the will of abandoning the constrictions of a rhythm section with thudding mementos that don’t go unnoticed, but also accompanying the leader’s voice with brilliant arco counterpoints when necessary. Bloody passion and killer-like coldness. Just perfect.

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