Jim Dvorak/ Paul Dunmall/ Mark Sanders / Chris Mapp – Cherry Pickin’
(SLAMCD 294. CD review by Jon Turney)
American-born trumpeter Jim Dvorak has been a notable contributor to the UK scene since the 1970s, but hasn’t exactly been prolifically recorded. He’s best known as a free player, and this welcome quartet CD presents a kind of free jazz supergroup, with the majestic Paul Dunmall on reeds, effortlessly fluid Mark Sanders on drums and the bustling energy of Chris Mapp on bass.
The set concludes with a 20-minute collective improvisation, with all four players responding to one another with the lightning reflexes and lightness of touch you might expect. Leading up to it, though, is a set of more prepared pieces, all composed by Dvorak. The first four are fine instrumental numbers, full of attractive, spun-out lines from both horn players. E.D.’s Muse is bright and boppish, with distant echoes of Mingus as well as Coleman; Love’s Own Prayer offers a slowly unfolding sermon from Dunmall; the other two are equally engaging. It isn’t path-breaking work, but music that makes great use of the possibilities opened up by freer styles over these players’ careers to cast tradition in a new light.
There follow a couple of tracks with vocals from Dvorak in the mix, a recitation of a political caution from Frank Zappa, and one of Lord Buckley’s “Gettysburg Address”, with Dunmall adding punchy commentary on saxello. These are worth hearing, but perhaps not repeatedly. Then the long improvisation at the close takes us back to instrumented sounds, and the complete communion the recording opened with.
That, like the first half hour’s worth, is a consistently rewarding listen, with new felicities to notice on each hearing – Sanders and Mapp’s contributions here are often so subtle they can pass you by when your ear is caught by the horns, but are essential to the superbly open, interactive feel of the ensemble. It’s a CD I’ll be revisiting quite a bit, although maybe skipping those two voice-led efforts most times.