December 17, 2018
1980 Records No #
A solid if unspectacular session by Chicago bassist Chris Dammann recruits a cadre of high quality players from the Windy City, but seems unable to decide whether it should be a straightforward FreeBop session or whether to commit itself to a Prog-Blues-Rock groove. Dammann, who composed four of the seven tracks, is an accomplished bull fiddler who moves between Chi-Town and rural Virginia and commercial and creative music. An AACM member, drummer Avreeayl Ras worked with players as disparate as Kelan Philip Cohran and Dave Rempis. Keyboardist Mabel Kwan is part of the New music Ensemble Dal Niente; cellist Kevin Davis, who also uses a ring modulator, has worked with Rempis and Jim Baker; and keyboardist Paul Giallorenzo works with Joshua Abrams and Jason Stein. Meanwhile trumpet/ring modulator player James Davis, who gets a high percentage of the solo apace here, plays in groups such as Beveled and LORIS.
Dammann’s brawny bass work introduces many of the tracks and keeps the momentum going throughout. His motivated slap strategy on the concluding “Some Things Simply Disappear”, sprawl alongside cello spills and harmonies plus muted trumpet lines leading to polyphonic tune acceleration and ending with sweet brass echoes. Alternately his stop-and-start launch of “Close” brings out a stretched ring-modular-helped solo from Davis that suggests Freddie Hubbard’s CTI sessions, with the brass crescendo leading to steadily diminishing strained notes.
Other tracks list a little too close to ProgRock with synthesizer splashes not only used as a connective drone, but showcased extended string flanges which could have moved in from arena rock electric guitar showcases. Ra’s solid backbeat provides some release on “Apart”, a solid foot tapper. But perhaps giving everyone more space to play and even permission to play sloppily in order to express more upfront emotion may have abolished some of the sameness.
Judging from the competition in Europe and North America, there’s apparently a large market for highly rhythmic, trumpet and electronics sessions such as this and those fans will likely be drawn to this. For others the massed talent on board here probably led to unmet higher expectations before the disc was played. Maybe the elevation in style and substance from the band and Chris Dammann will take place on a future CD.
Track Listing: 1. A Line And A Point 2. Close 3. Many Exiles 4. Thread 5. Apart 6. Grids 7. Some Things Simply Disappear
Personnel: James Davis (trumpet, ring modulator); Paul Giallorenzo (keyboards, Mabel Kwan (piano, synthesizer); Kevin Davis, cello, Big Muff, ring modulator); Christopher Dammann (bass) and Avreeayl Ra (drums)