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Album Review

Spiky and challenging but only rarely moving into the rhythmic and tonal fearlessness of some of his more outside work, Dave Burrell's Momentum finds the veteran modern creative pianist working with a new pair of sidemen, the hot young drummer Guillermo E. Brown (part of the David S. Ware/William Parker axis who has also played with turntablist DJ Spooky) and bassist Michael Formanek, who has recorded as a leader since the turn of the '90s. With the 66-year-old Burrell in charge, there are three full generations of progressive jazz players on display, so what's most impressive about Momentum is how timeless it feels: these seven tracks sound like they could been recorded at any point since the early '60s. The majority of the album was originally composed to accompany a restored French silent film from the '20s (Burrell has spent much of his working life as a jazz expat in Paris), which goes a long way toward explaining its general straightforwardness. Formanek's elegant solo opening the graceful "Fade to Black" recalls some of Jimmy Garrison's showcases with John Coltrane, answered by Burrell's doomy, portentous low-register chords; elsewhere, "4:30 to Atlanta" is a showcase for Brown's improvisational skills, letting the drummer take the instrumental lead while Formanek and Brown spend most of the track placidly comping behind his controlled but fierce attack. Overall, however, this is Burrell's album fully, featuring solos that swing effortlessly from Bill Evans lyricism to Cecil Taylor atonality and back, sometimes within just a few bars. Burrell is often called an inside/outside pianist for this duality of his playing, and Momentum is that tendency in its purest form.


Born: 10 September 1940 in Middletown, OH

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Since the mid-'60s, pianist Dave Burrell has been a quality sideman on a number of free jazz recordings led by the likes of Archie Shepp, Pharoah Sanders, and Marion Brown. Burrell's voice combines the entire history of jazz from Dixieland to free, though it is as an inside/outside player that he most excels. His is a percussive, syncopated style, well suited to the heavily rhythmic concept favored by one of Burrell's steadiest employers, tenorist David Murray. Burrell was born in Connecticut,...
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Momentum, Dave Burrell
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