Paul Dunmall

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Saxophonist Paul Dunmall had made quite a large name for himself in adventurous British outfits like Barry Guy's London Jazz Composers Orchestra and Keith Tippett's Mujician, and by the end of the '90s was releasing a number of albums under his own name, including several on his own label. This duo with longtime partner bassist Paul Rogers was one such album, and illustrates the pitfalls Dunmall tended to encounter when operating outside of at least semi-structured situations. There are three long improvisations, the first and third with Dunmall on soprano sax, while he takes out the bagpipes for the second. While he has a strong tone on soprano that might remind some listeners of Sam Rivers, he has a habit of meandering. Sometimes this works when one can simply contemplate the fluid arabesques he generates; more often one is left with the impression of a musician treading water, waiting for inspiration to strike. Rogers, a prodigiously talented bassist, does what he can to steer things on track and contributes several deep and savory solos, but he cannot correct the overall arc of the pieces, which fail to attain fullness and singularity. The bagpipes piece holds together better and it's arguably worth the price of admission just to hear this unwieldy instrument used in a free improv context (Dunmall has a solo pipes recording on his label as well). However, the disc remains ultimately disappointing; one suspects that Dunmall hadn't yet found the optimum setting for his great gifts.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 25:17
2 16:23
3 19:37
blue highlight denotes track pick