Paul Dunmall/Paul Rogers/Kevin Norton: Go Forth Duck (2004)
Similar in cast to its predecessor, this disc presents the second part of a Spirit Room session from spring of last year. The touring trio of Dunmall, Rogers and Norton slake their substantial creative music thirsts on two massive slabs of improvised music broken by a comparatively cursory interlude. Back-story on the players as individuals is probably unnecessary, as each has been making a share of rippling waves in recent years. In a very inexact analogy, Dunmall and Rogers operate as the U.K.’s answer to David S. Ware and William Parker. Norton has long since moved beyond his early mantle as a pupil of Anthony Braxton and now regularly fronts a handful of groups with various releases on his own Barking Hoop imprint.
As probably expected the three take their time with the space at their disposal. The title piece opens to the dour refrain of Roger’s arco bass, flanking Norton’s cymbal washes, snare rolls and vibes fills. Dunmall’s soprano sings a similarly mournful line out of the right channel as tones crease and overlap. The gradual nature of the piece requires some patience on the part of the listener. No formal directives are established prior and the trio adopts a credo of "see where this spontaneous music takes us and let premeditation be damned." The result is the sort of risky extemporaneous interplay that CIMP producer Bob Rusch thrives on.
Transitions are rickety in places, but when these three lock the effect is electrifying. Such is the case twelve minutes into the opener where Dunmall’s soprano rides a chaffing surf breaker of sprinting drums and chest-thumping bass, spewing out caterwauling multiphonics that likely scorched the Spirit Room ceiling. An interlude of uneasy calm borne on see-saw bowed bass, shakers and fluttering horn gusts acts as but the first of various segues on the peregrinating journey. Rogers shows himself a marvel at the exacting science of bottling and meting out scurrilous harmonics—a balance of supreme delicacy and precision. Norton’s latent drum solo draws on an equally impressive store of portioned power and grace. Attempts to map the scenery for future navigational purposes end up futile. Just as the music was created in the moment, so too does it resist enumeration.
Dunmall and Rogers share a long-standing friendship. Evidence of their simpatico exists on scores of releases from the saxophonist’s self-produced Duns label alone. Norton doesn’t try to muscle in on this bond, opting instead to interject and respond to it as a recent acquaintance might respectfully insinuate himself into a conversation between two close chums. The balance acheived isn’t always enough to sustain the music. “Come Back Weirdness Day” seems more like bridging filler and excuse to feature Dunmall’s (in)famous Northumbrian bagpipes than fully fleshed piece, though it’s an undeniably alluring interlude. The equally enigmatically titled “I Am Not a Van” traces a path of variety, momentum and focus akin to that of the opening cut, this time with Dunmall on tenor. All told this is a complimentary and satisfying companion to the trio’s first excursion, Rylickolum.
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Track Listing: Go Forth Duck/ Come Back Weirdness Day/ I Am Not a Fan (Ofocals).
Personnel: Paul Dunmall- soprano & tenor saxophones, Border bagpipes; Paul Rogers- A.I.L. bass; Kevin Norton- drums, vibes. Recorded: May 20, 2003, Rossie, NY.