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 Title:               The Gift of Discernment

 By:                  Denis Gonzalez

 Released in:   2008

 Format:          CD

 Catalog No:    MW 791-2

 Price :             0 EUR



1. Raise the Spirit [18:09]

2. There's a Face for Every Year [05:31]

3. Ganesha the Spy [16:16]

4. Tamazunchale 1 [06:17]

5. Portugal (for Linda Sharrock) [11:16]

6. Tamazunchale 2 [11:14]



Dennis Gonzalez - trumpets. cornet, gong, bongos

Alvin Fielder - drums, percussion, small instruments

Chris Parker - piano, percussion

Aaron Gonzalez - acoustic bass, gongs

Stefan Gonzalez - drums, percussion, balafon

Leena Conquest - voice

Robbie Mercado - bata, congas, tambora


What the critics say:

On the first, 15-minute long track, small percussion and gong sounds lead you into a hypnotic African-tinged music, a great bass vamp, with the piano playing some inviting chords, a female voice rejoicing after some ten minutes, accompanied by a background trumpet of twice 10 seconds. And yes, you're right, this is trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez for you : all for the music, even if it means a self-effacing approach. On this percussion-heavy band he is joined by Leena Conquest on vocals, Alvin Fielder on drums, his sons Aaron on bass and Stefan on drums, Robby Marcado on percussion and Chris Parker on piano and percussion. In fact, this is the sequel to Alvin Fielder's A Measure Of Vision which appeared last year on Clean Feed. The African mood and rhythms of the first track are further expanded on the rest of the album. And it is excellent : Gonzalez's warm bluesy tone is recognizable out of a million, the rhythmic support is an ongoing stready groove, rich because of its wealth of percussionists, with Parker's superb piano-playing to put the harmonic layers and counterpoint to the trumpet. The band does not go too far into unchartered territories, remaining in the free bop zone, using many of the musical effects that have been used successfully by others before, yet this band purifies it and lifts it to a higher level than many of their colleagues did. Listen to the third track “Ganesha The Spy", again a 16-minute long track with a steady almost funky beat, but there is no exuberance, no extravagance, the whole thing is so sparse, functional, with slow trumpet phrasing and isolated piano chords, Gonzalez building tension by repeating the same motif several times and then releasing it by launching a high plaintive note, or somewhat later, Parker improvising with his right hand only, building the same kind of tension over a repetitive bass vamp and economical drumming, and these little single piano tones tell a whole story, the whole track conjuring up worlds, full of drama, pathos even. Even on the more uptempo pieces, as on “Tamazunchale 1", Gonzalez keeps his melancholy tone, almost like Tomasz Stanko would, although they sound quite different of course. On “Portugal", which is without a doubted the most electrifying piece, Leena Conquest joins again, adding a spiritual and deeply bluesy feeling to the music. The last track has a reverse structure of the first track, ending with percussion by all band members, with rhythmic moments interspersed with percussive sound effects, fading in and out again and back. This is unpretentious, deeply emotional and spiritual jazz, brought by skilled, but more importantly, by inspired musicians. Highly recommended.


(freejazz stef blogspot)




Trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez has been responsible for some beautifully realized music on record in the past and this is a worthy addition to the canon. The music's full of that often difficult to define quality called life, shot through with a group conception which makes for a realization which is simultaneously both tight and loose. The presence of percussionist Alvin Fielder provides a kind of link with the percussive workouts of the Art Ensemble Of Chicago, and it's that aesthetic which pervades the first four minutes of the opener, "Raise The Spirit," before Chris Parker's piano strikes out for territories new with Aaron Gonzalez's bass hinting at harmonic possibilities. Singer Leena Conquest adds a further facet when she comes in and the gradualism of approach has the effect of enticing the listener in on the promise of new vistas. They come to the fore on "Ganesha The Spy," where Parker's piano sounds slightly portentous, only for the mood to disperse in the wake of percussion before Gonzalez maintains the stately, quietly reverential mood. Again the percussion is deftly handled in terms of deployment. The lyricism of the piece is perpetually foreboding, but in a manner that's the opposite of off-putting. Not for these guys is the use of volume and instrumental screaming in pursuit of spurious spirit summoning. "Tamazunchale I" is effectively a free bop outing, but it still gives Gonzalez the chance to show how he's come on. Any debt he might once have owed Don Cherry was at best debatable, but now he's his own man, not least in terms of his rhythmic conception. The percussion is busy, agitated at this tempo, but not to the point at which it's detrimental to the music's momentum. Again the key is realization. This is music as the product of group conception and the morality that implies is never in doubt. "Portugal (for Linda Sharrock)" is shot through with such rhythmic vitality that Conquest's vocal establishes itself in counterpoint, her sustained notes belying the level of activity beneath. The very irresolution of the piece lends it an amorphous air, but that's only one of the many happy surprises on offer here.


(Nic Jones, All About Jazz)

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