This Cd was recorded in a live session in the lovely Hexagon Theatre at mac Birmingham early this year. It was part of a tour that built on the success of the initial coming together of Paul Dunmall and John O’Gallagher in the 2017 Surge in Spring Festival, also at mac. The idea of bringing the two saxophonists together was an idea that came up in conversation with a student on the Birmingham Conservatoire jazz course, Robbie Fearon. I immediately thought ‘what a great idea’ and set about making it happen. The initial gig was a great success and a three date tour going to the Fringe Café Bristol and The Vortex London as well as Birmingham followed, with a quartet with John Edwards on bass and Mark Sanders on drums
Dunmall is one of the finest improvising saxophonists in Europe. There are strong influences from the later work of John Coltrane in his playing and he often plays and records tributes to Coltrane, but he is at his best when he goes beyond that influence and lets his imagination and creativity take over. Some may regard O’Gallagher as more of a straightahead player, but in his work in his own groups and with Jeff Williams’ quintet, he develops an approach that integrates elements of free playing; he certainly fitted into this group extremely well. The rhythm team of Edwards and Sanders is a well-established partnership in which both make their own contributions to the interactions as well as providing a swirling rhythmic basis for the group.
There are three extended improvisations on the CD, the third being rather shorter than the first two. The music is totally improvised and has the qualities of intensity, invention and energy that characterise the best of improvised music and free jazz. The third improvisation rounds the recording off nicely with a rather more emotional series of exchanges.
The three improvisations, entitled simply Freedom Music One, Two and Three, move seamlessly between a series of interactions between the four players, each passage moving naturally into the next. There are group improvisations with all four players, trio sections with either Dunmall or O’Gallagher dominant, duo improvisations with Edwards and Sanders and drum solos. Each passage has a very engaging flow and develops in a kind of arc before moving into the next passage. I particularly enjoy the conversations between the two saxophonists in which one may be dominant at a particular point with other providing a kind of commentary on the other’s playing. O’Gallagher does this extremely well. At other times there is a more equal conversation with each player making their contribution. I also love the interactions between Edwards and Sanders which are totally absorbing and bring a pleasant variety to the improvisation.
Overall this is a most enjoyable CD; it’s on the FMR label FMRCD476 0318. It was recorded, mixed and mastered by Chris Trent.