1) Marco Eneidi Quintet: Final Disconnect Notice, Boticelli 1011
2) Paul Dunmall Quartet and Sextet / Trio: Babu, Slam 207
Reviewed by Scot Hacker
(1) is a forceful testament to the vagaries of life in the city -- and to eviction in particular. Eneidi, schooled on clarinet, was originally from San Francisco, but has lived in New York City for over a decade. It's not difficult to imagine what trials being a jazz musician in those cities has wrought. This recording captures that economic and existential frustration in its suspenseful arrangements and dense voicings.
These six pieces were sketched out originally for two basses and two horns, though the second horn is here replaced by Borca's graceful but slippery bassoon -- an instrument she successfully divorces from any stodgy classical persona. Krall's presence tightens the mix by adding a muscular, yet somehow delicate underpinning. His rapid-fire, intuitive calculations keep a tight rein on jams that sometimes threaten to fly apart at the seams.
In contrast to the inner city frustration and paranoia that is this recording's defining theme, there are passages of pensive illumination, as in the elongated head of "Untitled." Here Morris plucks his way slowly through wide-angled gestures while Eneidi shows a gentler side of himself. Parker outlines the post-eviction notice mood with a slow, almost peaceful sawing. After four minutes of this relative tranquility, Eneidi jumps in at full gale and the band follows suit a half beat behind. The full-tilt session that follows epitomizes the paradox of controlled chaos, everything held together by a subtle but discernible energy pattern. Finally there is a return to the meditation that opens the piece. The listener is left dazed, but not confused.
This recording is magnificent from start to finish. Eneidi has been around for quite a while, but in my opinion this recording places him firmly among the ranks of the great free leaders. He has been playing recently with Raphe' Malik and with Boston's Full Metal Revolutionary Jazz Ensemble. Look out.
(2) is a two-CD set based around the BABU trio, which earned its name when the group was in Tbilisi, Georgia -- Babu is Georgian for 'grandfather'. The trio play as a solitary unit on the second disc, and as foundation to quartet and sextet on the first. While the second disc stands up pretty well on its own, and contains scattered moments of glory, it is in the context of the larger groups that things really start to happen. The compositions are more fully realized, the musicians more firmly rooted, and Dunmall's ideas bear fruit. In comparison, the trio work comes across more as a series of sketches.
Dunmall's tenor voice is throaty and full. When augmented by Picard's more airy tone, the two are able to create a visceral front to the quartet's tumbling, open-ended reveries. This however is a hit-and-miss affair. There are too many places in which cooperation gives way to a rambling lack of direction. Much seems to depend on whether Levin decides to play the role of unifying axis or destabilizing distractor. At his best, as on "Apocalypse," he is able to both and guide and mirror the fragmentary approach of the sextet. Elsewhere, he has a tendency to hammer his way through the rough spots rather than bring them home to roost.
Adams' guitar adds a much-needed chordal component to the proceedings on the solitary sextet track. Slipping eloquently between sparing, pinpoint pluckings and heated dissonant thrummings, he shows great sympathy for the ideas Dunmall has layed out. It's a shame he appears so briefly in this set.
All in all, this is a high-energy assemblage of long improvisations on short themes, some of which work admirably, others of which simply don't. A single CD probably would have been sufficient. Still, it stands as evidence that bold new players continue to emerge from Britain.
Eneidi: Final Disconnect Notice / Untitled / B up to A down to CT / Close-4-Close / La Chica Con Los Toros. 68:54.
Eneidi, as; Karen Borca, bsn; William Parker, b, cel; Wilber Morris, b; Jackson Krall, d. Rec. 9/29/93.
Dunmall: Disc One: Dobunni / Moths and Spiders / In the Haddock / The Devil's Chair / Scramasax / Apocalypse Now and Then. Disc Two: Lert / Trickly Hausen / Shun Fat / Separate Balls. Total: 106:08.
Tracks 7-10: Dunmall, saxes; Paul Rogers, b; Tony Levin, d. Tracks 1-5: above plus Simon Picard, ts. Track 6: above plus Jon Corbett, cornet, John Adams, gt;