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Gerd Dudek 'Smatter Review

Album. Released 6 March 2002.  

BBC Review

Beautifully judged lyrical tenor from German freejazz veteran Gerd Dudek on his first...

Peter Marsh 2002

This second album on Evan Parker's Psi label is a bit of a shock in a couple of ways. ThoughDudek's name will be familiar to any fan of European Free Jazz as a member of the Globe Unity Orchestra and veteran of sessions with Tony Oxley, Peter Brotzmann.Misha Mengelberg etc, surprisingly this is his first outing as sole leader, at the age of 63.

Secondly, this is an album of tastefully executed, tuneful modern jazz that would be worthy of a label like Enja or ECM (not to decry Mr Parker's rather excellent imprint). Dudek's partners are seasoned Britjazzersguitarist John Paricelli, bassist Chris Laurence and drummer Tony Levin.

Three tunes by trumpeter Kenny Wheeler (also a Globe Unity veteran) open the record. Dudek's airy yet precise phrasing seems ideally suited to Wheeler's compositional style, particularly the winding, aching melody of "Phrase Three" and the mournful "Ma Bel".

Though the influence of late John Coltrane made itself felt in Dudek's freer playing, here it's an earlier Coltrane, still steeped in Lester Young and Sonny Rollins, that filters through. Dudek marries Coltrane's full, emotive tone with the weightless grace of Wayne Shorter; his unaccompanied solo on ye olde tenor player's chestnut "Body and Soul" is a tour de force; he then locks horn(s) with Levin's polyrhythmic assault to provide the albums most fiery moments. The tricky bop pileups of George Coleman's "By George" is an ideal vehicle for some nimble, gently oblique tenor, while Jimmy Rowles's "The Peacocks" features the leader's sweet toned soprano, plus a finely articulated guitar solo from John Paricelli.

Paricelli's delayed, swelling chords recall early Bill Frisell, though his soloing eschews quirky fusion stylings for a sparkling, vibrant melodicism. The much undersung Laurence is one of the UK's great bassists; whether with bow in hand or with fingers, he propels, comment and suggests throughout,yet is as unobtrusive as the ground you walk on. His solo on "Ma Bel" is a thoughtful, melodic jewel, which is a pretty good way to sum up the whole album. Much credit goes to Evan Parker and Emanem boss Martin Davidson for putting this one out.More please...

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