John Lindberg

Dimension 5

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While not the absolutely earliest of this excellent bassist, bandleader, and composer's projects, Dimension 5 still features a photograph on the back cover that has prompted comparisons with nervous high school kids at a dance, all dressed up but afraid to ask anyone to boogie. Except John Lindberg is already holding a bass in the picture, so doesn't need a partner, and in the process of creating this recording was putting his best foot forward not to boogaloo but to establish himself as a contender in all three of his areas of obvious talent. Lindberg put together an ensemble for this project that's as sharp as his suit. Pulling off an effective live recording of original, complicated music is a messy affair, with results that often are not completely satisfying to anyone, artist or listener. Compounding this established level of difficulty would be additional factors such as: this was New York City, Lindberg was still a young dude on the scene, this was avant-garde music and this was an event that the artists had to promote and produce themselves. These comments are not made in order to soften an onslaught of criticism, since the most important thing about this album is its sense of time and place. While it surely can't represent the heights these players can and do reach, in performance and conceptually, it has plenty of exciting moments. The sense of the leader's compositions is established; he writes challenging music in which the jazz beacon has passed through the rainbow of Anthony Braxton's elaborate universe. The horns of Hugh Ragin and Marty Ehrlich are a winning hand for him, then, while the violin of Billy Bang is more of a wild card. Perhaps considered rough and unfocused at the time these pieces were originally released, time has been kind to Bang. His presence here adds a lot of personality to the music. The veteran drummer Thurman Barker fills out the rhythm section excellently. "Twixt C and D" was hampered in the vinyl release by the listener having to flip sides midway through, a problem that should have been remedied in the CD reissue.

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