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Album Review

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.


Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Free jazz drummer Whit Dickey first stepped into the spotlight as a leader with the release of his Transonic album from Aum Fidelity in 1998. Two years later, Wobbly Rail issued his Big Top release. Previously, he was best known for his solid work with Matthew Shipp and David S. Ware, with whom Dickey split in 1996. Early the following year, the drummer began composing the works that would be included on Transonic. Dickey penned all but two songs, "Kinesis" and "Second Skin," on the collection, and...
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Coalescence, Whit Dickey
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