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Chris Dingman: The Subliminal and the Sublime

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In his second album as a leader, Chris Dingman has brought forth a work of large ambition and impressive realization. The Subliminal and the Sublime is a through-composed five-part suite commissioned by Chamber Music America. Dingman was inspired to write it (over 18 months) by travels in the wilderness of the American West.

He derives a remarkable sense of scale from six instruments, and believably portrays massive Nevada mountains and vast California canyons. But he also does close-ups. “Voices of the Ancient,” one of three long movements, contains details like distant rainfall (from Fabian Almazan’s piano and Linda Oh’s bass) and a swath of fireflies in a midnight forest (from Dingman’s vibraphone, in collaboration with silence). Piano, vibes, alto saxophone (Loren Stillman’s) and guitar (Ryan Ferreira’s) overlap in tonal range. Collectively, they form a formidable treble sonority that continuously changes shape. Beneath, Oh and drummer Justin Brown generate energy in waves.

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