Whit Dickey


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NY vanguard jazz drummer Whit Dickey has led a few previous dates, but nothing to really prepare the listener for this set. Issued on the Portuguese label Clean Feed, Coalescence offers a portrait of the drummer as composer and sound-shaper. The lineup here, with Joe Morris playing upright bass(!), Roy Campbell on trumpet, and Rob Brown on saxophones offers a nice tight ensemble of experienced downtown players, all of whom have recorded on the Thirsty Ear and Aum Fidelity labels, and all of whom have been part of sessions ranging from free-blowing throw downs to more project-oriented dates. Here they play like a band, led by Dickey's impeccable taste and sense of tension. Certainly there are blazing moments of improvisation where boundaries and harmonic conventions slip away. Take the middle part of "Mojo Rising," for instance, where Brown's solo lifts off from the seven-note staccato groove created by Morris and turns the tune inside out before Dickey reigns it in and brings back the sense of flow in his own engagement with the bassist. But in both parts of the title track, there is a knotty, acute melody that juts out from the jarring harmonics and offers a staggered blues that comes out of the cracks whole and fluid. Dickey's own timekeeping is also full of dynamic control and keeps the entire process of unfolding within the linguistic sensibilities of hard-swinging jazz. Recommended.

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