Paul Dunmall Sun Quartet – Ancient And Future Airs (CF 138)
Recorded in June 2008 at New York City’s Living Theater, revered British modern/free-jazz tenor saxophonist Paul Dunmall aligns with his American counterparts for an energized meeting of like minded artistes. The leader of this date has been a pivotal figure on the global jazz scene with semi-structured ensembles large and small. His affiliation with the time-honored Mujician quartet is well documented, and is a unit that enjoys executing within extended compositions and improvisations. Here, the quartet follows suit, largely due to the forty-nine minute opening track,“Ancient Airs.” As Dunmall finds a superb foil with veteran tenor and soprano saxophonist Tony Malaby.
The dual sax attack commences “Ancient Airs” with slowly levitating exchanges, accented by Kevin Norton’s multi-hued vibes patterns. They accelerate the pace via high-spirited assaults and then lower the temperature during the more introspective movements. Malaby switches to soprano in spots as the band pecks and gnaws during its expressionistic free-form dialogues. At times they move forward with maddening intensity amid gobs of contrasting lines. Moreover, bassist Mark Helias and Norton, performing on drums, lay down the modulating grooves.
The quartet delves into fee bop terrain to complement a torrential downpour of polytonal musings. Yet the program is by no means superfluous or contrived. Highlights abound, where Dunmall goes on a tear due to his whirling dervish bagpipes passages. It’s improvisation of the utmost caliber. And after a lengthy applause by the audience, Helias launches the second and final piece “Future Airs” with a supple motif, followed by the saxophonists’ moody and animated dialogues. They use space as the fifth instrument while often rendering mini-themes under the auspices of a circular entity splitting into multiple fragments. Sure enough, the musicians communicate fire and brimstone. In sum, they perform on a higher realm of the all-encompassing jazz spectrum.