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PAUL DUNMALL – BRIGHT LIGHT A JOYOUS CELEBRATION (2023) (Discus Music)

Kentish man PAUL DUNMALL has been around for a while, is a master of tenor, soprano, baritone sax and saxello and also plays clarinet and Northumbrian pipes. Paul played on prog rock band MARSUPILAMI’s second album, ‘Arena’. He started recording as a sideman in 1976 and has recorded scores of albums starting with 1986’s “Soliloquy”, which have included TONY LEVIN, ANDY ISHAM, ELTON DEAN, KEITH TIPPETT(S) and ALICE COLTRANE (as part of the DIVINE LIGHT MISSION).

For “Bright Light A Joyous Celebration”, Paul has gathered together a stellar line-up of musicians, all leading jazzmen in their own right, and opener ‘You Look Away’ is a top piece, with SOWETO KINCH (alto and tenor sax), XHASA COLE (tenor sax), COREY MWAMBA (xylophone) joined by double bassist DAVE KANE and drummer HAMID DRAKE. This is one of four tightly crafted compositions (and one collective improvisation) with plenty of room for free improvisation and space for the individual musicians to express themselves; it’s hard to believe it’s all done in one take! ‘Disbelief’ starts with a brief drum break and is a perfect example of the chemistry between the blowers in this ‘little big band’, with Mwamba echoing lines and contributing enormously and effectively to the musical conversation going on around him. The title track is a stunner (It reminded me a bit of ‘Sunshine of Your Love’) and, by the way, Dunmall concentrates on tenor sax and C soprano sax on the album.

For fans of free jazz, without too much self-indulgence, “A Joyous Celebration” is a must. You can tell that Paul Dunmall thrives in this kind of setting and I hope these musicians can find the time to repeat the experiment! The music was produced by MARTIN ARCHER and COREY MWAMBA.

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