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Walt Dickerson/Sirone/Andrew Cyrille: Life Rays

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This writer just caught up with Dickerson, whose subtle conception escaped my awareness until writing this review forced me to dig in and listen. His sound is obviously unique- and Nat Hentoff’s notes explain how he alters his mallets to get his softer timbre and greater speed-but I never quite got on his wavelength before. His conception of melodic/percussive development is really his own. He may at times sound impressionistic, as when he creates such long shimmering lines that they cease to be heard as lines and become a sonic waterfall, but it’s not just a pretty thing. His “Good Relationship” reminds me of Andrew Hill’s uneasy writing.

Since I’ve just caught on, I don’t know how much of the success here is attributable to the presence of Sirone and Andrew Cyrille. The context calls for the utmost in understatement and controlled passion, and even staunch fans of these two may be surprised at how well they answer the call.