Paul Dunmall Quartet at the Claptrap

This concert was an example of improvised music at its very best with four musicians interacting with each other, listening to what was happening around them and reacting in positive and engaging ways to what they were hearing.  Over the two sets the audience heard a huge variety of sounds, textures and grooves.

The quartet was the one that recorded the Inner and Outer Cd which I reviewed very positively at  As is to be expected, the live performance took the music to a higher level.


The first set consisted of three sequences, each building from an initial statement from Philip Gibbs on guitar playing spidery lines, often with the guitar placed horizontally on his knees.  Paul would then come in, initially quite gently before gradually building up the energy levels.  These beautiful initial interactions between Paul and Philip were for me a particular highlight of the afternoon.  Another highlight was the interaction between the two rhythm players, James Owston on double bass and Jim Bashford on drums, which provided a really strong basis for the improvisations.  To use jazz terminology, ‘they swung like the clappers’.  James was also very effective when accompanying Philip in the passages when he was taking the lead on guitar.

Paul was as inventive as ever, always creating fresh melodic lines and never repeating himself.  He was playing the alto saxophone as well as his more usual tenor saxophone and I enjoy the different feel that comes from the alto.

Paul seemed to take the lead in the second set and again there was the pattern of a gradual build up to a climax.  In this set, as well as in the first, the final climax moved into a gentle wind down with Paul making a strong statement accompanied by a beautiful concluding motif from Philip on the guitar.

The gig was recorded and no doubt will appear on the FMR label in due course.

The gig took place on Sunday afternoon in the Claptrap venue in central Stourbridge and was promoted by Richard Bruce Clay.  The Claptrap is an attractive venue, upstairs on the main High Street, just a short walk from the bus and railway station.  It has an excellent stage and comfortable armchairs as well as tables and chairs.  The bar is away from the stage and, all in all, it is an excellent venue for improvised music and jazz.  It is attracting good audiences for these occasional Sunday afternoon concerts.

The photograph was taken by Garry Corbett and his photos can be found at  I am also grateful to Rob Bishop for a conversation which helped form my ideas about this gig.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s