KALAPARUSH AND THE LIGHT

The Moment
Entropy Stereo ESR012

Look out everyone, a new tuba monster is on the loose.

On the evidence of this CD, recorded almost two years ago, New York-based Jesse Dulman exhibits the chops and imagination of a steadily maturing musician — he was studying composition at LaGuardia High School of Music & Arts and the Performing Arts as recently as 1999. Not only does he alternately function as part of the front line or take the bass’s role in the traditional rhythm section, but he even contributes a slick, skipping composition to the CD.

Furthermore, although his plangent inventiveness sometimes overshadows the contributions of the other trio members of The Light, his conception fits hand-in-glove with what the other two players are trying to create.

Chief attraction, and leader of the date, is the underrecorded Kalaparush Maurice McIntyre (born 1936), a longtime member of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, who now lives in Brooklyn. McIntyre was a featured player on both reedist Roscoe Mitchell’s and pianist Muhal Richard Abrams’ debut recordings in the late 1960s. Despite working as a leader and recording since that time, he first met Dulman, when the youngster was playing solo tuba in the New York subway, a musical money-making opportunity that McIntyre sometimes takes advantage of as well. Dulman has since played with the likes of AACM composer Henry Threadgill and Dutch trombonist Wolter Wierbos. Percussionist in this date is Ravish Momin, whose experience encompasses wok with pianist Dan DeChellis and saxophonist Sabir Mateen

Interestingly enough it’s the sophisticated Threadgill who is honored on the first piece, recorded live in Detroit that day, although Kalaparush is a much earthier player than H.T., relying as he often does on high-pitched screams and glottal growls. Keeping the beat the way early New Orleans players like Wellman Braud would have before they switched from tuba to string bass, Dulman keeps up constant walking reverberations. Meanwhile Momin is ringing different patterns from his kit as if he was playing hand drums in a South Asian or Latin band. Finally the two horns blend melodically to take the piece out.

Inspiration for McIntyre as well as thousands of other saxophonists, “Big John Coltrane Indian Man” is another obvious homage. Although at one point the saxist begins to spew out cadenzas reminiscent of late-period Trane, the tenorist soon pulls himself up short. And it’s this hesitancy that may be responsible for his low profile. Meanwhile Dulman’s rhythmic oom pah pahs move from accompaniment to soloing as he snorts out dissonant overblown lines, even hitting his unwieldy axe’s upper registers. Polyrhythm rearranges itself into unison work, with McIntyre, despite his avant split tones, seemingly holding back and letting the tubaist’s rugged toots take the tune further along. Although his execution could be smoother, Dulman takes full advantage of his horn’s lowest notes and plays it like a tuba, not a bass bugle.

As a matter of fact the only time he seems to be out of his element is on “Dream Of …”, a semi-ballad. You’re suddenly conscious of his youth, since he seems to lack the experience to create something quiet and romantic. Kalaparush resorts to hand clapping to encourage a quicker tempo, but the entire piece seems to meanders more than it moves.

Dulman’s own “Irene Calypso”, is more satisfying, as the tubaist’s flexibility suggests New Orleans Second Line as well as Caribbean sounds. First he provides the thematic vamp as the saxist’s lines slip and slide around his reverberating beat. Then Dulman comes up with variations on the theme as McIntyre creates a polyphonic counterpoint to it, each player subtly varying the melody. However Momin, who at one point turns the beat around, is a little too busy for the proceedings and it takes a rhino-like sibilant blasts from Dulman to get the overly busy drummer on track.

An instructive clue to The Light’s conundrum appears on Kalaparush spiritual “I Don’t Have An Answer, Unless It’s God”. With Momin using metal brushes on the underside of his snares and toms plus hand drumming for a nearly beat-less rhythm, and the tubaist producing a languorous expressive tone with plunger suggestions, it’s up to the tenorman to keep things moving. Although harmonically sound with a timbre as much in alto as tenor range, his output lags as the tune unrolls and he’s soon repeatedly sounding the same pattern. Dulman’s glossy legato tone tries to add a little excitement, but aggregate low energy causes the piece to fade away.

Valuable historically as it adds another disc to Kalaparush’s slim discography, THE MOMENT is still most convincing when it showcases Dulman’s burgeoning skills. Hopefully dynamism from him and the drummer will shore up the saxophonist to more assertive performances.

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Hangin’ By a Threadgill 2. Antoinette 3. Big John Coltrane Indian Man 4. I Don’t Have An Answer, Unless It’s God 5. Mama Jaaae 6. Irene Calypso 7. Dream Of …

Personnel: Kalaparush Maurice McIntyre (tenor saxophone); Jesse Dulman (tuba.); Ravish Momin (percussion)