George Adams & Don Pullen Quartet: Dionysus
George Adams/Don Pullen Quintet
Earth Beams (Timeless 147)
Cameron Brown (bass).
Composed by Dannie Richmond.
Recorded: Loenen Aan de Vecht, Holland, August 3-5, 1980
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
Three out the four members of the George Adams/Don Pullen Quartet died in middle age: drummer Dannie Richmond in 1988 at age 52, saxophonist Adams in 1992 at 51, and pianist Pullen in 1995 at 53. As a result, the band had a regrettably short life. It was nevertheless one of the greatest jazz groups of the '70s and '80s. To a degree greater than perhaps any other band of its time, the group was able to cohere the various strands of jazz's development in creating a seamlessly modern music—state of the jazz art in all its multifaceted glory.
Drummer Richmond's tune "Dionysus" begins as a relaxed, quasi-latin vamp—almost a ballad. It gives the band ample room to stretch its collective imagination and build to ever-greater levels of intensity. On tenor, Adams carries the repetitive, quietly riff-ish melody; Pullen's increasingly dissonant accompaniment gains momentum on the bridge, and we're given a hint of the maelstrom to follow. Adams solo gets very "out" very quickly, as the rhythm section reacts in kind. Pullen follows, wasting little time on pleasantries. He digs right in—fingers, fists, forearms, and all. Richmond and Brown ground the performance while letting it breathe. The performance heats up and cools off naturally; the musicians are extraordinarily simpatico. That sense of common purpose shared by four gifted and unique musicians results in something special.
Reviewer: Chris Kelsey