Paul Dunmall Octet The Great Divide Review

Released 2001.  

BBC Review

...the breadth and depth of music on this recording is truly mind-boggling...

Bill Tilland 2002

After four excellent recordings during the 1990's as part of the Mujician quartet, Dunmall has more recently been fronting an octet, and the last piece on this CD is for sixteen players. Dunmall brings his Mujician mates along for the romp, so the listener is treated not only to Dunmall's fearsome powerhouse tenor sax, but also to Keith Tippett's inside/outside piano wizardry, Tony Levin's percussive thunder and Paul Rogers' nimble, expressive bass. Dunmall is a democratic leader, so everyone here gets a chance to shine, including the additional members of the Octet, which include second tenor Simon Picard, trombonists Hilary Jeffries and Paul Rutherford, and trumpeter Gethin Liddington.

As with Dunmall's earlier octet recording on Cuneiform, Bebop Stardust, the breadth and depth of music on this recording is truly mind-boggling. The bookends are the collective free blowing of "Part One" and the closing title piece (for the big group), which amounts to a sledgehammer opening theme and then a wild but bracing ten minute group improv cacophony.

In between, though, Parts Two through Five offer a rich compendium of modern jazz, with fine extended soloing from everyone, and a wide dynamic range of shifting duet, trio and quartet combinations, supported by ensemble passages which are sometimes almost Ellingtonian in their sonorities, and sometimes as spiky and weird as vintage Sun Ra. This is not merely "Britjazz," but jazz which takes its place front and center on the world stage.

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