Paul Dunmall has recently brought two new Cds on the FMR Label: As One Does (FMR CD512-1018) and Inner and Outer (FMR CD513-1018). The first features a double sax front line with Julian Siegel joining Paul on tenor sax and also bass clarinet on two tracks, plus Percy Pursglove on double bass and on trumpet on two tracks, and Mark Sanders on drums. The second features Paul with Philip Gibbs, a guitarist that Paul has recorded with on many occasions, James Owston on double bass and Jim Bashford on drums. Both albums were recorded at the Rain Studios in Kings Heath, Birmingham and were mixed by Luke Morrish-Thomas.
Both albums capture Paul at his very best, forceful on the double sax album, more contemplative on the album with guitar. It is all freely improvised, and it always strikes me how fluent Paul’s playing is in this context; he always creates a solo that is original and full of fresh ideas that never seem to be repeated. There is a coherence and logic to these solos that remind me of the same phenomenon in Sonny Rollins’ solos. Paul seems to enjoy the joisting of a double sax frontline and has in recent years toured and recorded with John O’Gallagher, played the Herts Jazz Festival with Alan Skidmore and recorded with Jon Irabogan, who seems to have come over from the US with the specific aim of recording with Paul. But it is fascinating to hear Paul in the very different context of a quartet with an improvising guitarist on the second Cd.
The Cd As One Does with Julian Siegel, Percy Pursglove and Mark Sanders has six tracks the length of which ranges from about 8 to 13 minutes. The pattern is mostly one of interaction between the two horns that leads into individual solos from both Paul and Julian and then back into the call and response interaction. There is a strong and varied groove from Percy and Mark throughout. It is interesting how Julian’s playing is often quite similar to Paul’s and sometimes it is difficult to decide who is actually taking the solo. Paul is generally just that little bit more forceful than Julian, but there isn’t a lot in it. Interestingly, I believe that Paul has had quite an influence on players of both Julian’s generation and the next generation.
This pattern of interaction leading into individual solos and then back into the interaction is followed on the first three tracks. Paul solos first on Track 1 As One Does and Track 3, Talk with me. Julian leads off on Track 2 Woe is me, FO. Track 4, Fine lines of expression is different and lives up to its title with a beautiful solo from Percy Pursglove on trumpet, initially over a drone from Julian on bass clarinet which leads into a duet between the trumpet and clarinet. Paul enters and we have a three way interaction before a very powerful duet between Mark Sanders on the drums and Julian on bass clarinet. Again Paul enters for the final part of the track.
Track 5, Ever new down the avenue is at 13 minutes the longest track and each soloist is able to stretch out. Julian is again on bass clarinet and both his and Paul’s solos really build up impressively. Percy is on trumpet and there is a fine duet passage with him and Mark that eventually segues into a three way interaction with the three horns.
Track 6 is back to the two tenor sax front line and follows the pattern of interaction leading in and out of solos. Julian takes the first solo on this track.
On the Inner and Outer album there is a similar pattern of interaction leading in and out of solos. Track 1, the title track, begins with a gentle bluesy feel led by Paul with strong support from James Owston on bass and Philip Gibbs, on guitar, that leads into a passage of interaction between Paul and Philip. What I find particularly interesting in this is the way Paul interacts with the guitar. I have noticed that on a gig he always listens intently to what is going on and will often come in with a response that reflects what the other players are doing. In this quartet Paul’s lines often have a skittering feel very similar to those of the guitar with the result that his playing is very different from that on the As one does CD. Philip Gibbs is impressive throughout, both in interaction with Paul and in his individual solos, especially on Track 2 Outer Space and Track 3 Inner Space. But the real revelation for me is the playing of James Owston on double bass. James is in his final year at Birmingham Conservatoire and was recently in the final of the BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year event. This recording was his first real contribution to an improvised music performance, but he sounds really at ease in it. The duet between James and Paul on Track 4 Inner Time is particularly impressive.
Track 5, Outta Time, is the outstanding track. It is at just over 20 minutes by far the longest track and Paul is at his most forceful best as he stretches out. James Ownston is again impressive topping and tailing the track with opening and closing bass solos. Jim Bashford gives particularly strong support throughout the track and also takes a very enjoyable solo.
Needless to say, I strongly recommend these two albums. You can buy them online at http://www.fmr-records.com/
Key words : jazz, free jazz, improvised music, Paul Dunmall, Percy Pursglove, Julian Siegel, Mark Sanders, Philip Gibbs, James Owston, Jim Bashford, FMR Records