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Other Dimensions In Music: Now!

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Unlike John Patitucci’s new release of the same name, Other Dimensions In Music applies an exclamation point to underscore the intensity and immediacy of their group vision. A highlight of this year’s Vision Festival, a weeklong celebration of improvised music held on New York’s Lower East Side, this collective quartet has carved out a niche in late ’90s avant garde with its dynamic and vibrant sound.

Vastly underrated trumpter Roy Campbell Jr. is a commanding presence on the front line of ODIM. His fiercely uncompromising style is a continuation of the adventurous path that Don Cherry blazed. Plus, his chops are as formidable as his imagination. Free spirit Daniel Carter may be the secret weapon of the group. A highly emotive multi-instrumentalist, he switches from alto to tenor saxes to flute and trumpet with equal aplomb and sense of daring. The rolling, pedaling pulse of drummer Rashid Bakr and bassist William Parker allows both Campbell and Carter to roam anywhere the spirit moves them, separately or in tandem. And their tendencies are, more often than not (like Cherry and Ornette Coleman) rooted in melodicism and marked by uncanny vocal phrasing. The resulting music can be highly volatile or uncommonly tender…sometimes within the same piece, as on the 33-minute suite “For the Glass Tear.”

“Tears for the Boy Wonder (For Winston Marsalis)” is a kind of tongue-in-cheek funeral dirge with both Campbell and Carter on trumpets while “Blue Expanded” builds organically to an ecstatic peak before subsiding to a hush, with Parker bubbling underneath like a lava flow, and then returning to a fever pitch with Carter’s shriekback alto solo. “Whispers & Cries of Change” (For Departed Musical Warriors) is a showcase for both Campbell’s muted pocket trumpet and Parker’s arco technique. “Dawn” is another beautiful melding of trumpet and alto sax on top of a rubato pulse. And the frantic closer, “Steve’s Festive Visions Revisited,” is an ode to Aud Fidelity’s and Vision Festival promoter Steven Joerg.

Far more than just “energy music” or “adolescent ramblings,” as some critics have dismissed the avant garde, ODIM is onto a group dynamic that is thoughtful, full of nuance and passion, sometimes provocative, sometimes poignant but never predictable. A rewarding set by a vital working band, and there first in eight years. Here’s hoping their next one won’t take so long. Their growth needs to be documented.