Saturday, September 01, 2012

Paul Dunmall and Tony Bianco - Thank You to John Coltrane (Slam, 2012)

Saxophonist and composer John Coltrane was and continues to be a massive influence on jazz and many other fields of music. Tenor and soprano saxophonist Paul Dunmall and drummer Tony Bianco take a minimalist approach to their Coltrane tribute, touching on some of his most famous themes and crafting their own improvisations out of them. Since the two musicians might be more associated with the free improvising scene it is particularly interesting to hear them investigate some early Coltrane compositions, recorded before he began investigating free jazz in ernest. The ballads "Naima" and "Alabama" are particularly interesting, with Dunmall touching on bruised and haunting versions of the melodies and joining with Bianco to take their improvisations off into a more abstract territory. "Giant Steps" is slowed down from the galloping pace of the original, and dissected by the two men, laying out the music's component parts and using them to build their own personal statement. This album is bookended by two compositions from John Coltrane's late "free period," "Peace on Earth" and "Expression." The former is an excellent free-jazz burnout with the two musicians going full bore right out of the gate and investing the music with the power and the passion that its composer intended. "Expression" is simply staggering, waxing and waning over the course of twenty-eight minutes, it's a tour de force of epic proportions. Both Dunmall and Bianco are completely invested in the music, giving all they can and the effect is breathtaking. A fantastic way to end one of the most enjoyable (IMHO) albums to come out this year so far. Thank You to John Coltrane -

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