Elton Dean / Paul Dunmall — If Dubois Only Knew
(Blueprint BP194CD, 1996, CD)
by Jeff Melton, Published 1998-07-01
Two seasoned British sax players: just them, no keyboard, guitar, bass, or drums for accompaniment. Uh-oh! Eight songs of duets and free jazz performance? God, I need some Tylenol, just thinking about playing this disc, 'cos I'm going to have such a migraine after wading through an entire hour of this brash mess! In the disc insert we have one big picture of two old guys blowing their proverbial hearts out. For an album that was recorded at somebody's home three years ago and then released by a good indie UK label (Voiceprint), it should be something really special, right? Without any constant meter to fall back on, your typical jazz crowd classifies this performance as 'difficult but disciplined' and well... it is. But the focal point through it all is a simple raw improvisation. Two competent players trading licks, melodies and random ideas in real time with no frills. The complementary pieces, “Wide Asleep” and “Deep Awake,” may be a slight commentary on either the home engineer's or musician's dispositions after hearing playback of the master tape. The most listenable duet is “That's Your Plot” where Dean takes a back seat role as Dunmall solos quietly over a pulsing ostinato that quickly changes into parallel sixteenth note waves of yakkety sound. You may even wonder how musicians can make a living by playing this kind of seemingly disorganized chaos. Well, it's a love or hate situation... no inbetweens here. I was hoping there would be at least a couple of good ballads to offset some of the banter, but alas they were not to be heard on this occasion. But wait... who the hell is Dubois? If he only knew about this disc, he may run over to the nearest bridge and... For free jazz purists only.
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