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Paul Dunmall & Chris Corsano - Identical Sunsets

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Artist: Paul Dunmall & Chris Corsano

Album: Identical Sunsets

Label: ESP-Disk

Review date: May. 6, 2010

It is fitting that reedsman and composer Paul Dunmall should end up on the venerable ESP label. His playing contains the passion and introspective fire that can be heard on many of ESP’s best releases. It is also fitting that his first offering on the imprint should be a duo with drums. This particular format has been a mainstay of Dunmall’s music for many years; his partnership with Mujician drummer Tony Levin has been documented since the Spiritual Empathy album in 1994. The present set was recorded live in England during April 2008, Dunmall and Chris Corsano delivering a scorching duo set that features all the energy and invention expected from the pairing.

Two tasty miniatures bookend the disc. The title track is shot through with what sounds like bowed percussion accompanying a tasty helping of Dunmall’s blazing border pipes. The brief six-minute episode encapsulates beautifully his ever-changing and always unique language on the instrument. At the other end of the program, “Out of Sight” highlights Dunmall’s more recent penchant for pointillist high-register utterances, and these are rather surprisingly counterpointed by Corsano. As the cover only states drums as his instrument, I have no way of knowing how he achieves the strange but effective chip-monk chatter, especially as he’s constantly inserting transparent percussives beneath and around it.

“Out of Sight”’s second half contains more of the expected high-tension duo exchange that pervades the two longer tracks. It is a treat to hear Corsano in this context; like Eddie Prevost, his playing can shift focus and timbre in a second, snapping effortlessly from hyper swing to orchestral and back. Dunmall’s vocabulary is similarly exhaustive as he moves from long lines over absent changes to braps, rasps and roars soaked in New Thing vinegar.

There are surprises here, even for the seasoned Dunmallian. Multiphonics aren’t a normal characteristic of his style, but they make a welcome appearance during a quiet passage in “Living Proof,” along with bowed counterpoint from Corsano. Consequently, each of the longer pieces has the feel of a connected series of vignettes, bringing more variety to this very satisfying concert document. The club recording is clear and intimate, allowing each detail room to breathe as these two poets interweave their narratives.

By Marc Medwin

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