Jan 15 2015
This is an interesting debut album from the Dave McDonnell Group. The Dragon and the Griffin serves up a little bit of everything from McDonnell’s background as a sideman and ensemble member.
There are tracks like “Aethelstan” and “Painter of Tigers” that offer up the angular melodies of the Chicago scene’s intriguing mix of post-bop and free improv, while juxtaposing them with a rhythmic approach that emphasizes fluid motion over punctuated tempos.
There are tracks like “Perch” and “City of Birds,” which hit a straight-ahead note, one heavy with Chicago blues even when it occasionally swerves and curves into a non-linear type of sound. “Geranium” takes this approach, too, but imbibes strongly from a free jazz approach at times.
There’s also the three-part “In a Clearing,” which unobtrusively inserts a little ambient chamber music into the affair.
McDonnell skirts the risk of losing album cohesion from embracing the wide focus. Much of this is a function of maintaining a connective flow from song to song, so that even the sudden change of furious post-bop to contemplative chamber music is effected with an appealing grace. Also attributable to some degree has to be his involvement with non-jazz acts like the Olivia Tremor Control and Circulatory System… groups that also deftly formed a confluence of disparate elements into a charismatic tunefulness.
An album as promising as it is enjoyable.
Your album personnel: Dave McDonnell (sax, electronics), Chris Welcome (guitar), Joshua Abrams (bass), Frank Rosaly (drums), Tomeka Reid (cello) and Jason Adasiewicz (vibraphone).
Released in 2014 on New Atlantis Records.
McDonnell is current calling Cincinnati his home, but between his background and the personnel, this should be considered jazz from the Chicago scene.