Keith Tippett Octet – The Nine Dances Of Patrick O’Gonogon
(DISCUS 56CD. CD Review by Patrick Hadfield)
Commissioned by a benefactor and released following an online campaign on Kickstarter, pianist and composer Keith Tippett‘s new release is a suite of nine tunes (with two bonus tracks) that are inspired by Irish folk music but are wholly modern jazz. There are elements of swing and free improvisation, and steps in between. Some passages are redolent of Duke Ellington, other evoke Charles Mingus’ suites.
Each piece within the suite is named after a specific dance, presumably within the life of the eponymous O’Gonogon (a fictional creation, I believe). Some dances are very specific, such as the opener, The Dance Of The Return Of The Swallows, or The Dance Of The Bike Ride From Shinanagh Bridge With The Wind At His Back; others are more descriptive of emotion, such as The Dance Of The Sheer Joy Of It All or The Dance Of The Longing.
The octet provides Tippett with a rich palette. Comprising two trombones, two alto saxophones (one doubling with soprano and flute), trumpet/flugelhorn together with piano, bass and drums, it is a medium sized ensemble that sounds like a big band, in much the same way that Mingus’ bands did.
Organised in three sections of three dances, some of the pieces sound tightly scored whilst others include freer sections; and at times there are moments of joyful anarchy. The Dance Of The Sheer Joy Of It All has the most clear connection to Irish music, a lively, jaunty number punctuated by punchy chords.
The Dance Of The Walk With The Sun On His Back is much more languid, the alto saxes sounding almost like Johnny Hodges. The triplet of tunes that start with this are the most Ellingtonian. The Dance Of The Day Of Observance is haunting and mournful, bringing to mind Duke’s Black, Brown and Beige.
The Dance Of Her Returning is another gentle, wistful piece, featuring a flugel solo by Fulvio Sigurta which full of longing. The tune is reprised after the conclusion of the suite as a coda, with vocals by Julie Tippetts, a lovely evocative number. The final piece, a second coda, is The Last Rose Of Summer, a traditional Irish tune arranged, for the most part without piano: it sounds like an impressive brass band. Tippett draws the piece to a close with some subtle solo piano.
Patrick Hadfield lives in Edinburgh, occasionally takes photographs, and sometimes blogs at On the Beat. Twitter: @patrickhadfield.
Keith Tippett will be performing at Herts Jazz Festival in Welwyn on Sat Sept 17th with Paul Dunmall, Clark Tracey and Tom McRedie. TICKETS
LINK: Podcast interview from 2013 before the premiere of the Nine Dances