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Brad Dutz: The Other Three

With The Other Three, free percussionist Brad Dutz reaches for a gauntlet Shelly Manne threw down on 1954’s The Three: It’s a trio album with one horn player (John Fumo on trumpet, cornet and flugelhorn), one reedist (Kim Richmond on alto sax and clarinet) and Dutz’s drums-no bass. This creates space beyond most free jazz for their formidable melodic ideas, but also leaves the music sounding two-dimensional.

Actually, it’s the melodies’ high quality that drives home the bass’ absence. Pieces like “Vermin in the Basement” and “Flipping Out” have intertwining sax-and-trumpet lines, shifting between counterpoint and two-part harmony, that beg for someone to put chord changes, however spontaneous, underneath them. At times, Dutz is able to establish a harmonic foundation, playing tuned gongs on “Slender Lois of Sri Lanka” and what sounds like kettle drums on “Machine Five.” He even manages to imply a drone with toms on “Mandrakes & Narwals.” Yet there’s still a thinness in the arrangements that a steady upright could thicken and shape with more versatile, unpredictable changes than Dutz’s echo-y percussion offers.

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