Andrew D'Angelo: Gay Disco (2009)
In the time between the debut recording by reedman Andrew D'Angelo's trio with bassist Trevor Dunn and drummer Jim Black and the release of the group's follow-up, some dramatic and widely talked about circumstances have befallen the saxophonist. D'Angelo's battle with a malignant brain tumor proved to be an inspiring and transformative process, as the rumbling intensity and nervous energy of the debut has maintained its edge while giving way to a more harmonious disharmony.
The most delightfully garish moments, like the spastic buzzes and squeaks of D'Angelo's bass clarinet on "Deltilu Armistadik" and the unaccompanied solo piece "Vota Ju Sintro," are the work of an artist fluent in finding harmony within discord. With alto sax and bass clarinet in hand, listeners are often inclined to cite Eric Dolphy, but echoes of Jackie McLean and James Spaulding also seem to peek through at times.
Gay Disco is balanced by three particular cuts: the opener "Norman," the midpoint "Skrosh" and the closer "Gay Crisco" all display D'Angelo's distinctive penchant for matching aggressive grooves with unlikely twists of phrasing. Prior to reaching the midpoint, the disc seems focused on more melodious ensemble interplay: "Enzo" in particular revels in a delicate beauty. On this half, the rhythm team of Black and Dunn (on electric bass throughout) are alive with grooves that pop and rumble, especially on "Used 2," "Keeper" and "Lawrence Fin," freeing D'Angelo to explore the threshold between his abstracted bop phrasing and blistering, intense extended vocabulary.
As the disc makes its way towards the end, the format breaks into frequent shifts between fragmented statements, with the sonic abstractions of the aforementioned "Deltilu Armistadik" and "Vota Ju Sintro" contrasting "Vota Ju," where characteristically thorny unison phrases give way to wordless singing that is unquestionably the record's most tender moment. The up-tempo title track wraps things up, with noisy saxophone, bass and drums climbing on top of each other, attaining a critical mass of sound.
Track Listing: Fam Hana; 25 Hits; Boo Be Boo Bee Bee; Egna Ot Waog; Fichtik; Gay Disco; Lame; Morthana; Rutloosic; Tune Blue.
Personnel: Andrew D'Angelo: alto saxophone, bass clarinet; Trevor Dunn: bass; Jim Black: drums.