Deep Whole Trio, The Mall, Nov 27
Paul Dunmall, Paul Rogers and Mark Sanders have played together, on and off, in many combinations, for thirty years. This matters because the music they play relies so completely on mutual sympathy and understanding, as well as enormous instrumental skill. There are no fixed points. This is spontaneous improvisation, with a high event rate (a couple of orders of magnitude higher than The Necks, say). Each of them can and does play in the high-velocity, high intensity style that emerged in free-jazz in the 1960s. They can also do it simultaneously without getting in each other’s way, which is harder. And they do so much more.
Sanders, who plays a trap set augmented with a few extra percussives, is constantly inventive, a kind of supercharged version of Paul Motian, has an unusually tuned kit, and turns to mallets rather than brushes in more mellow moments. Rogers, who is the most likely to fall into straight time for a stretch, conjures an inexhaustible range of sounds, plucked or bowed, from his beautiful seven-string bass – and is as transfixing when he plays unaccompanied as when he is deep in the trio mix. Dunmall, on tenor (mainly Coltranish), soprano (ditto) and alto (more touches of Ornette) and two kinds of bagpipes (one uses electronically generated sound so is bagless, but in the same sonic neighbourhood) seems to concentrate as completely when the other two are playing as when he is contributing his own lines.
Last night at the Mall in Clifton, they played two half-hour sets of unbroken improv – moving seamlessly from on episode to another as the mood took them, with a couple of brief encores to close the evening. The music was a masterclass in collaborative creation, by turns rambunctious and reflective, raucous and ravishing. With little in the way of conventional navigational aids, it demands close concentration, and suits a small room like this one (OK, not as small as Fringe jazz used to be), but it covers a big emotional and expressive range. Dive in as a listener, and go with the flow as the players do, and it is hugely rewarding. You might not want to listen to this kind of thing all the time, but when it is executed at this level it leaves you with the tingly impression that these players play this music, this way because while they are doing it they are as alive as it is possible for them to be. The feeling that lingers is a kind of envious delight: the envy that can be evoked by seeing people who can create at this level; delight at being able to share it, at least as a listener.
The date was part of a Jazz Services supported 30th anniversary tour, and there are a couple more stops – Cheltenham tonight and Birmingham tomorrow.