New Albums from Jason Moran and Paul Dunmall

Jason Moran solo piano: The Sound Will Tell You     Bandcamp

I find this to be a deeply satisfying solo piano album.  There are twelve tracks in total, all relatively short, all quite beautiful in the way they present a captivating melodic statement.  It is Moran’s third solo piano, and it is innovative in two important aspects

The first innovation is that on six of the tracks Moran uses the DRIP effect to modify the sound of then piano in subtle ways.  DRIP is an effect (program?) that is often used in contemporary music genres, such as ambient music, post rock, and dub.  It seems to have variations and Moran uses either ‘tear’, ‘honey’ or ‘shadow’ on these tracks.  The result is that the piano sound is deeper, darker and has a touch of reverb.  The use of DRIP by Moran does not distort or heavily manipulate the sound, just adds an extra gravity as the notes to the album suggest.  I like the results and they certainly add to the variety of the album.  The tracks using the effect are clearly marked.

The second innovation is that the release of the album coincides with an exhibition at the Luhring Augustine Gallery in New York.  The exhibition presents a series of works created by Moran’s playing over pieces of Japanese Gampi paper placed on the keys of the piano.  The ‘attack’ on the keys creates a series of dramatic and stunning images.  To quote the Gallery’s press release, which you can access here,  ‘the motion of his hands is tracked in layered lines of saturated pigment, and washes of color spill across the compositions, tracing the pull of gravity, or charting the creases and natural fibers of the paper’.  

This is one example.  Apparently, the pieces make extensive use of hues of blue with the colour’s connection to The Blues, blue notes and Egyptian Blue, the first synthetic pigment in ancient times.

One can take a virtual tour of the exhibition available here.  Click on the triangle, and move round the gallery. On the same site there is also a page showing the pieces

You can access the album on Bandcamp here.

Unmasked:  Dunmall Metcalfe Owston Jozwiak   FMR Records

This album is an album of great charm.  It features a double flute line up of Neil Metcalfe on flute, Paul Dunmall on alto flute, ably supported by the two young players who have been recording quite a bit with Paul recently: James Owston on double bass and Tymek Jozwiak on drumsNeil Metcalfe is well known as an improviser who concentrates on the flute, whereas Paul Dunmall is known as a great improvising saxophonist and occasional flautist.  On this album, however, he plays alto flute throughout. 

It is an improvised set with four pieces, all relatively long ranging from 9.50 mins to 17.25.  The music proceeds through duets between the two flautists which then move into collective improvisation with Owston and Jozwiak playing a major role, then into flute solos with the rhythm players supporting, and then back into interaction between the four players.  There is a very pleasing movement between the various passages and there are no dull moments.  One track will begin with a collective improvisation, another with a flute duet, and others with an individual flute solo.  Everybody plays well, and I have been particularly impressed with the contributions of the two young players, Owston and Jozwiak, who come across as accomplished and creative improvisers able to react quickly to the movement in the music.

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