January/February 1997

Bill DeArango
Anything Went
GM Recordings

Find yourself becoming more conservative as you grow older? It's a natural tendency, but some people just seem to be exceptions that prove the rule. Such is the case with 75-year-old DeArango, who briefly surfaced in the '40s when he appeared with the likes of Ben Webster and Dizzy Gillespie and now plays free jazz exclusively. On this outward-bound recording he joins forces with fellow Clevelander Joe Lovano and brothers George and Ed Schuller on drums and bass, respectively.

For the set's four short duets with Lovano, DeArango relies on an octave stomp box that enables him to peck away at the music's lower register. While the four performances are similar in their frantic vibes, the duo does achieve a few moments of especially perceptive spontaneous exchange and contrast. The tunes that include the rhythm section naturally up the activity level and help generate memorable aspects like the segue from chaos to a slow quasi shuffle in "Anything Went" and the detached, twisted reading of "Cherokee." When DeArango isn't monkeying with his octave gadget and playing solely for texture and effect, what impresses is the musicality and horn-like flexibility of his phrasing, which ranges from short rhythmic ideas to long uncommonly fluent lines-an ear-opening performance from one of the guitar's true renegades. - Jim Ferguson

Originally published in January/February 1997
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