A Filming Session with Paul Dunmall

Last Friday TDE Promotions/Fizzle set up a recording and filming session at Sansom Studios in Wythall area just outside Birmingham.  It was trio session led by Paul Dunmall with bass player James Owston and drummer Tymoteusz Jozwiak.   It was an excellent session with really strong interaction between the three players with the added interest of hearing Paul play different saxophones and flute.  He played the first two tracks on tenor saxophone, the third on alto sax, the fourth on C-Melody sax and the final track on flute.    

The film will be out in the near future on the Fizzle Facebook Channel and when the date of the launch is fixed, we will let you all know.  There will also be a Cd of the session at a later date. 

Paul has been recording a number of  Cds at Sansom Studios recently and, as well as recording with musicians, such as Mark Sanders, John Edwards and Liam Noble, with whom he has worked regularly over the years, he has started playing and recording with some of the younger players on the Birmingham scene.  Last week’s recording and filming session with James Owston and Tymoteusz Jozwiak is a case in point.   On other session yet to be released he has recorded with trombonist Richard Foote, guitarist Steve Saunders and drummer Jim Bashford.  

Paul is at pains to point out how many excellent young players there are on the Birmingham scene and how readily they adapt to free improvisation. 

We would like to review here three of the recent recordings.  They are on FMR Records and can accessed at www.fmr-records.com.    From January TDE Promotions launched a monthly series with the name Paul Dunmall Presents at the Eastside Jazz Club with Paul selecting a different band each month.  We had three great sessions up to March, but, sadly because of the virus, we will have to wait till some time in 2021 before we can start the series again.  In the meantime, it is great that Paul is able to document his activity through the recordings at Sansom Studios, thereby creating a huge legacy. 

CD Awakening Expectations FMR Records  CD580-0520 

The group that plays on the Cd is essentially that which appeared at the first session of the Paul Dunmall Presents series in January 2020.  It has Paul just on tenor sax on this occasion, Percy Pursglove on trumpet, John  O’Gallagher on alto saxophone, Chris Mapp on electric bass and Miles Levin on drums.  Paul had wanted a pianist on the live session, so added Elliott Sansom for the recording.  This was, I believe, Elliott’s first experience of improvising freely and he immediately made his mark interacting early on with Percy, and then with Paul later in the title track Awakening Expectations, and concluding the track with a beautiful solo with a classical and almost romantic feel.  The track is totally improvised and proceeds through a series of collective passages that alternate with solos from the horns, piano and drums.  Each of the horn players take a solo, two in the case of Percy, and each one relates back to the collective passage just before it and leads into the next.  Miles takes a fine solo that at the end drops down in intensity that leads into the most abstract of the collective improvisations.  The collectively improvised passages have a lot of variety, from the early passage that has a New Orleans front line feel to it, to the very abstract passage just mentioned.  Others have a joyous and exuberant feel. 

Track 2 Playing The Virtues 

This second track is significantly different from the first with the collective improvisation going further ‘out’, that is becoming more adventurous.  It starts collectively with the three horns interacting with each other with the piano, bass and drums silent.  Percy is very impressive in this section.  After quite a long section the piano bass and drums enter and the intensity rises.  Then there is a passage, again relatively long, with just the piano trio with Elliott becoming increasingly confident in his solo.  John O’Gallagher enters interacting with Chris on the electric bass; Chris gradually takes over with a bass solo.  This becomes quite abstract and Percy adds another texture with a series of single note punctuations.  The saxophones then enter and this more abstract approach gradually becomes more intense.  A similar pattern is followed for the rest of the track; Elliott solos again, Paul plays a great solo, there is an early peak with an interesting collective riff which seems to be bringing the track to an end, but then John comes back in with a great solo.  The track gradually winds down to its conclusion. 

CD: A Songbird’s Temple FMR Records CD572-0120 

This is a trio album with pianist Angelica Sanchez, an American/Mexican pianist who was on a short tour of UK, Paul again on tenor saxophone, but also alto flute on the final track, and Mark Sanders on drums.  It’s a very different album from the Awakening Expectations album.  It is totally improvised, but the music breaks down into solos by Angelica and Paul over Mark’s inventive drumming.  Both take quite long solos on the five tracks, and their styles fit together well so that there is a good cohesion in the music.  It is interesting to note that, although Coltrane is clearly the major influence on Paul’s playing, he has the ability to develop extremely logical solos where each phrase leads seamlessly into the next, a feature of his playing that reminds me of Sonny Rollins’ approach.  Moreover, Paul rarely repeats himself; he assures me that he has his licks that he will sometimes repeat, but I am yet to work out what they are.  Angelica has a similar approach and the New York Times description of her having the ability to ‘seek out the lyrical heartbeat in any avant-garde storm’ suggests why she fitted so well with Paul’s playing. 

CD: The Feeling Principle FMR Records CD589-0120 

This album sees Paul Dunmall with three well established improvisers: Liam Noble on piano, John Edwards on bass and Mark Sanders on drums.   It is another hugely varied CD which brings out another aspect of Paul’s and the other musicians’ abilities.  What strikes me about the three tracks is that a structure to the improvisations appears naturally and organically in each of the tracks.  In the title Track 1, for example, some way into the piece there is a momentary pause and then Paul accompanied by Liam comes in with a very different gentler focus.  Initially it seemed pre-planned to me, but I have been assured that it happened spontaneously.  A similar thing happens in Track 2, Full Waking Trance, where about two thirds into the track Paul again takes the music in another direction with gentle support from the bass and drums.  There is also a series of arcs to the improvisations with each arc starting gently, building up in intensity and finally winding down; this adds coherence to the music.   

There are also a couple of excellent albums in the can yet to be released: a quartet album with Paul and Neil Metcalfe on flutes, Paul on alto flute and Neal on regular flute.  They are joined by James Owston and Tymoteusz Jozwiak.  Then there is a sextet album with Percy Pursglove on trumpet, Richard Foote on trombone, Steve Saunders on guitar, James Owston on double bass and Jim Bashford on drums.  They are joined on one track by Elliott Sansom on harmonium. 

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