Thursday, May 30, 2013

Chris Dingman Waking Dreams 2011

I first became aware of Chris Dingman upon reviewing Sean Moran and the Small Elephant Band along with the David Ullmann Quintet and their latest release Falling. Dingman is the future of modern jazz vibraphone and along with Moran and Ullmann, Chris Dingman's Waking Dreams easily finds a spot in that mythical top ten recordings you would take to a desert island category.  

Waking Dreams is a somewhat conceptual if not cathartic release dealing with all aspects of the human condition from a hands on p.o.v as experienced by Chris Dingman. A fixture on the dynamic and ever changing New York jazz scene, Dingman assemble an all star cast including trumpet phenom Ambrose Akinmusire and steady rollin' bassist Joe Sanders while Fabian Almazan on piano and Justin Brown on drums round out a formidable rhythm section. Loren Stillman solidifies the ensemble cast with a chameleon like ability to follow Dingman's shift harmonics and keen sense of melodic play that encourages a unified group dynamic. Waking Dreams is particularly adept at sidestepping traditional classification which can be a tad limiting if taken too seriously. A fair assessment may be to refer to the compositions of Chris Dingman as lyrically based accessible free jazz with an ethereal twist or...we could simply call it beautiful music and be done with it. 

"Jet Lag" is an odd metered pop of syncopated excitement oddly reminiscent of some of the Broadway work often associated with Bob Fosse musicals or perhaps more commonly accepted as the Leonard Bernstein West Side Story vibe where a stellar sextet magically transforms into a small big band sound with tremendous depth and vibrant colors. The perfect counterpoint to the ever changing metropolis that is the jazz mecca of the world. "Manhattan Bridge" puts on the ambient vibe of an early morning sunrise over the city that never sleeps. Much of the inspiration from this release came in the wee hours of the morning via a vivid dream state that seems to be the catalyst for this sonic autobiography recalls the last twelve years of Dingman's life. "Clear The Rain" continues the dark yet vividly bold presentation with Ambrose Akinmusire taking center stage with a dramatic presentation that may be arguably his best recorded solo to date.

An over abundance of good vibe players plagues the New York scene and beyond, Chris Dingman belongs one step higher on the vibraphone food chain. An artist that paints vivid imagery with bold yet deceptively muted colors for a cerebral trip into his musical world. The future of the modern jazz vibraphone is now. Chris Dingman is an artist whose musical stock is an arrow pointing straight up.

Tracks: Prelude; Vijayanagara; Jet Lag; Manhattan Bridge; Indian Hill; Waking Dreams; Interlude; Same Coin; Shift In The Wind; Reflection; Clear The Rain; Nocturnal; Zaneta; Epilogue - Stillness.

Ambrose Akinmusire - trumpet
Loren Stillman - saxophones
Fabian Almazan - piano
Joe Sanders - bass
Justin Brown - drums
Chris Dingman - vibraphone