Paul Dunmall had made an increasingly strong reputation for himself as a member of such forward-looking ensembles as Keith Tippetts' Mujician and Barry Guy's London Jazz Composer's Orchestra when he began to issue recordings under his own name, leading groups ranging in size from trio to octet. EastWestNorthSouth is a follow-up to the highly successful hatOLOGY album Ghostly Thoughts with the sax/guitar/drums lineup expanded to a quartet by the addition of a second guitar. On that prior disc, John Adams showed an unusual and enjoyable approach, with a dry, percussive style of guitar playing more befitting a rhythm instrument in a larger ensemble than a featured one in a trio. He remains in that role here (including some fine work on an acoustic guitar adapted to sonically resemble an African doussn'gouni), with new guitarist Phillip Gibbs lending a more traditional sound to the group. Despite his past expositions of a robust and ferocious approach to the tenor sax, the solidest tracks here are the two on which he plays soprano ("West" and "South"). These evolve from small kernels of improvisatory antenna-wagging into bubbling cascades of inventiveness, Dunmall never wanting for ideas and the explosive drummer Mark Sanders keeping the heat turned way up. On the other hand, the two pieces with Dunmall on tenor never quite get off the ground as the group spends the duration probing and searching but unearthing little of great value. Dunmall fans will want to hear this and the two shining tracks make it worth a purchase, but he's heard to better effect on the hatOLOGY release and as a high-energy soloist with Tippetts or Guy.
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AllMusic Review by Brian Olewnick