Dennis González's Spirit Meridian: Dust




Dennis González's Spirit Meridian


Idle Wild (Clean Feed 0035)

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Dennis Gonzalez (trumpet), Oliver Lake (alto sax),

Ken Filiano (bass), Michael T.A. Thompson (drums)


Composed by Dennis González


Recorded: New York, 2005


Rating: 87/100 (learn more)

Dallas and Ft. Worth are about 35 miles apart. Both have a history of producing great jazz artists. Dallas gave us David "Fathead" Newman and James Clay. Ft. Worth was home to Ornette Coleman, Dewey Redman and Charles Moffett. It's as if Dallas got the straight-ahead cats, while Ft. Worth produced the free jazzers. Dennis González does his best to preserve that legacy on the one hand and counter it on the other. A native of Dallas, the 54-year-old trumpeter has spent the last 30+ years playing with some of the world's finest free jazz musicians (Charles Brackeen, Frank Lowe, Andrew Cyrille, among others), building a substantial body of work along the way.

"Dust" presents González in the company of a quasi-legend: alto saxophonist Oliver Lake, co-founder of the World Saxophone Quartet, and long one of the most admired alto saxophonists in jazz. González and Lake are joined by New Yorkers Ken Filiano on bass and Michael T.A. Thompson on drums. This tune's repetitive, singsong theme is nothing special, but the song does provide a kind of structurally nebulous framework that allows Lake the near-total freedom he seems to crave. Never an especially lyrical player, Lake's solo here is typically quick and sinuous—scribbles on a canvas, varying in density from pointillist flecks to broad splashes of pigment. González, on the other hand, is a more tuneful improviser. His line meanders, but is effective in its way. The dynamic Thompson maintains a lively discourse with his fellow improvisers. He's an exciting yet nuanced player. Filiano fills the space between Thompson and the horns most ingeniously, and his redoubtable sense of form grounds the performance. This is a quality effort, made all the more valuable by the presence of an all-time great.

Reviewer: Chris Kelsey


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