Thursday, June 18, 2020

Whit Dickey Trio - Expanding Light (TaoForms, 2020)

Drummer Whit Dickey has certainly paid his dues, woodshedding and playing in the bands of David S. Ware and Matthew Shipp, biding his time. After gradually building a small but impressive discography as a leader, he elected to form a new record label called Tao Forms, with the inaugural releases being Matthew Shipp's The Piano Equation, and this album. Joining forces with Rob Brown on alto saxophone and Brandon Lopez on bass, they create an explosive and highly successful album of modern and free jazz. "The Outer Edge" uses solo drumming to open the album, with tight pinched sounding alto saxophone, developing a wonderfully nuanced and searching sound, and the bass acting as the glue holding things together. Their music courses into a vibrant collective improvisation, taken at a fast and gutsy pace, with the music flowing forth in a highly imaginative stream of creativity. An unpredictable drum solo takes center stage, with the band eventually returning and Dickey adding strong cymbal accents to the music, keeping everyone on their toes. A soft gradual opening for deft bass and brushed percussion eases the group into "Desert Flower" with a building sense of urgency, developing into a deep and complex duo conversation. The saxophone folds in and gradually and builds in tone and tempo and the group coalesces into seemingly free and open improvised section, with frequently piercing saxophone and cymbal driven percussion. "Expanding Light" shows the trio jumping into action right away with a full bodied performance, their three way improvising is tight and invigorating with probing saxophone, slashing drums and bounding bass, coming together in one thrilling organic process. They downshift to bass and drums, creating imaginative rhythms and leading to a fine drum solo. Brown comes back with a strong push and as the trio barrels toward a fine finish. "Mobius" makes use of excellent bowed bass from Lopez along with shards of saxophone and drums to create an enticing and progressive track. Moving into a midsection of bowed bass, feathering cymbals and abstract waves of saxophone shows the depth the music is capable of, pushing to a darkly toned conclusion. The finale, "This Opening," makes use of excellent bowed bass and emotionally stark saxophone to develop a vivid and passionate performance. Raw peals of saxophone speak to the emotional depth of the music, aided by the excellent bass and drums in driving the band through to the conclusion of an excellent and memorable album. Expanding Light -
Whit Dickey Trio - First St. Green / Arts for Art 9/28/19 (YouTube)

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