Paul Dunmall & Chris Corsano Identical Sunsets

[ESP-Disk; 2010]

Styles: free jazz, experimental, improvisational
Others: Jooklo Duo, Hamid Drake, Mats Gustafsson, Little Women

One of the many engaging aspects of free jazz is the perpetually shifting arrangements of artists as they move freely, not just in the act of performing, but among each other to materialize a countless number of distinctive and unfamiliar ensembles. This practice is not only conducive to building a strong community of artists, but also resists normalization and enhances the possibilities for fresh and challenging sonic exploration.

Percussionist and sound-explorer Chris Corsano exemplifies this radical democratic spirit and practice. In the past, he has performed and/or recorded with artists who dwell across a wide range of the sound continuum, including Paul Flaherty, Thurston Moore, Nels Cline, Jandek, Michael Flower, Jim O’Rourke, Björk, Nate Wooley, C. Spencer Yeh, Virginia Genta, Evan Parker, John Edwards, Heather Leigh Murray, Okkyung Lee, and many others. Whether he is pounding up into the outer regions of unrestrained, mad sound with saxophonist and frequent collaborator Flaherty or commanding the idiosyncratic and hyper-precision groove with Björk, Corsano can transition among the realms of skull-bending kit-fury, exactitude, and Buddha-meditation like few other contemporary percussionists.

On this new release for ESP-Disk, which features a captured set from the duo’s April 2008 performance at Slak in Cheltenham, England, Corsano joins forces with tenor sax and border pipes blower Paul Dunmall. Dunmall cut his tongue in the US working alongside Alice Coltrane and Johnny “Guitar” Watson, and then returned to his native land to work with UK folk groups and jazz improvisers including Dando Shaft, Paul Rodgers, Spirit Level, Nigel Morris, Alan Skidmore, Elton Dean, and Tony Levin. In 2000, Dunmall and Philip Gibbs started their own record label, Duns Limited Edition, which takes a cosmopolitan approach to curating improvisational music, from free jazz to folk to Indian classical and beyond. Recently, Dunmall has teamed up with Hamid Drake, Evan Parker, William Parker, and many others, continuing his efforts to push the boundaries of sound. The pairing of Corsano and Dunmall, both avid improvisers who refuse to get locked into a category, is a prime example of free jazz’s simultaneous embrace of tradition and flux.

On opening track “Identical Sunsets,” Dunmall rips in on bagpipes to produce dizzying blasts and circular patterns of Highlander-skronk that levitate above Corsano’s bed of cymbal and object friction. Dunmall returns to his tenor on “Living Proof,” shifting between calm, blue phrases and spinning paranoia while Corsano splatters the ground with polyrhythmic textures that seem impossible for a being with only two arms. The duo allows space to prevail for the final six minutes of the piece, but gradually fires up the race as they zoom into “Better Get Another Lighthouse.” This piece features the most aggressive 11 minutes of the performance, as they both attack not just their respective instruments, but also some poor bloke’s lighthouse.

In the final moments of the set, Dunmall and Corsano lock into a spiraling groove of bedlam and blaze. If you listen closely, you can hear the audience yelping and whooping as the level of intensity gets too high for silence, demanding audience participation. Then, BOOM — the sounds come to an abrupt halt, and we’re left once again with the equally uncertain and chaotic world to listen to.

Links: Paul Dunmall & Chris Corsano - ESP-Disk

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