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Dopolarians: Garden Party (Mahakala)

A review of the debut album from the avant-garde sextet featuring the late Alvin Fielder

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Dopolarians, Garden Party
The cover of Garden Party by Dopolarians

Early in 2019, the avant-garde jazz world suffered a crate-sized blow when drummer Alvin Fielder passed away at 83. A Sun Ra Arkestra member in the late 1950s, Fielder cofounded the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), played on Roscoe Mitchell’s 1966 touchstone Sound, and, in recent years, teamed with double bassist Damon Smith on several heady, must-hear recordings.

Garden Party, the debut by Dopolarians—a supergroup featuring Fielder, tenor saxophonist Kidd Jordan, bassist William Parker, pianist Christopher Parker, alto saxophonist/saxello player Chad Fowler, and vocalist Kelley Hurt—is a bittersweet entry in the percussionist’s canon: the final session he would make before falling ill. It’s also a set that bursts with joy and abandon, suggesting the intoxicating big-band spirit of Charles Mingus.

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