Cherry Pickin’

Putting fads and fashions aside, this seven-track CD could be irrefutably dubbed a perfect example of British Jazz from mainstream players in mid-career, if it wasn’t for the fact that the trumpeter and chief composer was born in Brooklyn. Putting that quirk of history aside, Cherry Pickin’ is an unbeatable vehicle for the talents of Jim Dvorak, who despite being born stateside in 1948 has been a resident part of the British scene for almost 45 years.

Infrequently recorded as leader, Dvorak, has been a member of the Keith Tippett Group, Chris MacGregor's Brotherhood of Breath and the Bardo State Orchestra to merely name three bands. His associates here are tenor saxophonist Paul Dunmall, a close contemporary, who has also been part of many ensembles; plus two younger musicians. Drummer Mark Sanders has partnered everyone from Evan Parker to John Butcher; meanwhile Birmingham-based bassist Chris Mapp is in bands with Sanders as well as everyone from saxophonist Dave Rempis to electronic whiz Leafcutter John.

Mapp, who also plays the electric bass and electronics, is strictly acoustic here, with most of the tracks relying on his thickened arco sweeps as well as his rugged time keeping. On the whole most of the sounds here are FreeBop, with the emphasis more on Bop and previous styles than Free Music. “As Above, So Below” the one exception, is at nearly 20 minutes the lengthiest track. Here the rhythm texture of irregular drum snaps and sul ponticello string vibrations agitates below the intersection of Dunmall’s buzzing blasts and Dvorak’s tremolo lines. Binding at the end, horn solos confirming the saxman’s more experimental post-Trane expression, contrast with the trumpeter’s high-pitched shakes which frequently seem as if they’re going to reorient to replicate some familiar Bop standard.

Dvorak’s enduring Bop/Pop orientation is additionally confirmed by “Zapped” and “Getty’s Mother Burg”. The first could be termed dirge-psychedelic as Dunmall warbles comment on the trumpeter verbalising some of Frank Zappa’s lyrics. The second is Dvorak’s recitation of a bit by Bop-comic Lord Buckley with Dunmall’s saxello yaps providing bluesy counterpoint.

More musically meaty are other tracks. The trumpeter shows off a sophisticated obbligato that plays off Mapp’s thickened sul tasto line and Dunmall’s long pitches on “Love’s Own Prayer”, while Sanders cascading clinks and shakes help define “Miller’s Tail”, which otherwise confirms the saxophonist’s improvisational mastery – spinning out colorful variations without pause. Similarly “If I’m Gonna Have to Choose” – while resembling an early Ornette Coleman ballad – is another tenor triumph as Dunmall’s open-horn slither is ably seconded by Mapp’s guitar-like string pops.

The last title is invalidated by the session. The quartet’s command of many idioms means that no singular choice is necessary.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. E.D.’s muse 2. If I’m Gonna Have to Choose 3. Love’s Own Prayer 4. Miller’s Tail 5. Zapped 6. Getty’s Mother Burg 7. As Above, So Below

Personnel: Jim Dvorak (trumpet and voice); Paul Dunmall (tenor saxophone and saxello); Chris Mapp (bass) and Mark Sanders (drums)