Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Paul Dunmall Moksha Big Band: I Wish You Peace

British reedist Paul Dunmall left school at 15 and became a touring musician by 17. Soon thereafter, he found himself living in an ashram in the U.S. and playing behind Alice Coltrane and Johnny “Guitar” Watson. After returning to England, Dunmall found work with folk groups as well as with heavyweight British free-improv ensembles the London Jazz Composers Orchestra and Mujician. Not everyone’s biography reflects on their work-particularly in a few superficial details cobbled together, as above-but in Dunmall’s case, it really does. Every bullet point on the resume seems to have made a mark on the well-traveled musician’s sound. In addition to his work on tenor, soprano and baritone saxes, the burly, bearded Dunmall plays a wicked bagpipe. As a free improviser, Dunmall packs a lot of power and sensitivity in a wide range of expression, though he’s kept an open line to bebop and folk music, which he’s increasingly apt to roll into his larger group music.

That’s certainly the case on I Wish You Peace, a big-band recording marking Dunmall’s 50th birthday. For the session, Dunmall assembled a group full of top players. Nearly all of them have played in Dunmall’s various bands. In fact, the ensemble includes every member of Mujician as well as Dunmall’s trio with guitarist John Adams and drummer Mark Sanders. The leader, who structures his music in vignettes geared around soloists or smaller ensembles, can’t help but clear the field for extended passages featuring both groups playing by themselves. That move reinforces a feeling of consolidation with this recording; Dunmall’s big band is really an extension of his smaller working ensembles running together in a three-part suite. A key ingredient throughout is Mujician pianist Keith Tippett, who always seems to pop up in support of the strongest solos here and etches fragments of structure into Dunmall’s churning passages of Ascension-like free improv or traffic-jam bebop.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published