Mujician
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Spacetime (Cuneiform Rune 162) [February 2001] Buy this CD now!

Sober, serious music by four giants. The Mujician quartet is maybe the best jazz expression you can find today, with technical abilities and hard pumping lungs going together all the time. Paul Dunmall is a monster sax player and this CD shows him at his very best, even more splendid than in his recent solo album "The great divide"; Paul Rogers and Tony Levin are much more than your usual "rhythm section" and each has his own distinct voice, well documented in many beautiful solo sections. No one is better at the piano than Keith Tippett when you come to think about the best of English music. This record has a breathing quality and it's an intelligent proposition, a highly enjoyable lesson for anyone.
– Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes

Based in Britain, this quartet recurrently corroborates its importance to the progressive jazz community with each successive release. On this 2002 effort, the band segments fifteen pieces into two interrelated motifs. Whether performing on soprano or tenor saxophone, Paul Dunmall jabs, encircles and counterbalances, pianist, Keith Tippett's complementary and at times, contrapuntal statements. The band takes something akin to an open-ended stance during many of these works ­ where they engage in a series of extended solo spots that are utilized as frameworks for thematic inventions. On several occasions, the artists balance contemplative interludes with ferocious four-way dialogue and improvisation-oriented expansion. Hence, another sterling outing by these consummate professionals! Recommended.
– Glenn Astarita, AllAboutJazz.com

I musicisti di questo quartetto (Keith Tippett, piano; Paul Rogers, basso; Tony Levin, batteria; Paul Dunmall, sassofoni) hanno ormai una lunga storia in comune; ancora piu lungo il loro percorso individuale. Parliamo di quel jazz che ha fatto si tesoro degli insegnamenti di Mingus e Coltrane ma per il quale anche il Free e Steve Lacy (il cui procedere angolare affiora piu volte quando Dunmall e al soprano) sono ormai dati acquisiti. Un jazz che ha praticato l'improvvisazione (in solitudine e collettiva) e che e in grado di accogliere senza pregiudizi - ma senza furbizia alcuna - suggestioni provenienti da musiche extraeuropee.
Stante la lunga frequentazione, i quattro sono in grado di suonare largamente 'a braccio': che i risultati non abbiano mai il sapore della routine e buona testimonianza dell'assoluta serieta della loro ricerca. Frutto di una registrazione di studio di lodevole limpidezza timbrica, Spacetime si articola in quindici episodi di lunghezza variabile ma sempre contenuta; il che - mentre consente ai musicisti di esplorare atmosfere e combinazioni strumentali diverse - costituira un indubbio vantaggio per chi si accosti per la prima volta a questa musica.
Beppe Colli


Colours Fulfilled (Cuneiform Rune 102) [June 1998] Buy this CD now!

“My colors certainly got fulfilled on this wonderful 67.5 minute CD of high-energy free jazz from some high-level improvisors.”
– Glenn Engstrand, the improvisor, www.the–improvisor.com

“On Colours Fulfilled… Mujician continues its excellence. …This is a band which breathes life together. The magic level of response and the creation of mood and event between players is masterful, inspiring… If you latched on to the critically acclaimed Birdman, this date gets under that volcano.”
– Doug Lang, Coda Magazine, #284, March 1999

“Coda Magazine’s Writers’ Choice 1998
Andy Bartlett: #1 = Mujician – Colours Fulfilled – Cuneiform”
–Coda Magazine, #283, Jan/Feb. 1999

“The Tone Clusters Magazines Top 40 or so Releases for 1998
#37, Mujician, Colours Fulfilled, Cuneiform, USA”
–Tone Clusters

“This release…is an excellent and very large stomp into the current Brit-jazz scene. The tone is brilliant and fantastically high energy. The production (by Evan Parker!) is pristine and the playing is shockingly original (to my American ears, anyway). Keith Tippett creates clouds of piano tone colour that I’ve never heard anything like before. Highly unique and therefore highly recommended.”
– Dave Cross, Popwatch, #10

“Mujician’s music works because the group’s four very forceful musical personalities don’t get in each other’s way. For all their differences, their strengths seem complementary Keith Tippett's massive, lumpish piano chords; Paul Dunmall's brutal, rough-hewn sax lines; the gravity of Paul Rogers’ bass playing; and the stony clarity of Tony Levin’s percussion. The album begins and ends with Dunmall on Bagpipes, two powerful performances which underline just how distinctive this group sounds. Elsewhere the music picks up where 1996’s excellent Birdman left off, exemplifying the uncompromising charms of the tradition which it extends.”
– Will Montgomery, The Wire, #173, Aug. 1998



Birdman (Cuneiform Rune 82) 1996
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“Sensitive interaction, but volcanic all the same, it’s organic free-jazz played just right, and the three long cuts leave the listener breathless. 4 stars”
– John Corbett, Down Beat, Sept. 1996

“A disc that offers more with each listen, Birdman ...is a rare recording. It is a ferocious energy music that is capable of equally subtle effect, a soundscape that fills up the room with oxygen. ...a collective performance that is startling... In this sort of free playing that is about expressive composition in the moment, Mujician is a quartet that are deeply committed to experiment... Birdman provides a groundswell of energy.”
– Steve Vickery, Coda, #273, May/June 1997

“Complete spontaneity is what the free improvising quartet Mujician is about...The members of the group are virtuosos, not just as players but as listeners, responding to the other players instantaneously. Phrases move around, the music ebbs and flows like an organism, which in a sense it is, a new being created for the moment by the interaction of the musicians. Serious music, and very free, but with its own deeply abiding logic and unity.”
– Stuart Kremsky, IAJRD Journal, v. 29, #4, Fall 1996

“Birdman...is a measured and powerful piece of music, mining a rich free jazz vein.”
––Will Montgomery, The Wire, #153, Nov. 1996


Poem About The Hero (Cuneiform Rune 62) 1994 Buy this CD now!

“Poem About the Hero is more than brilliant. It’s a long haiku full of collective improvisational genius.”
– Tom Sekowski, Exclaim!, Sept, 1995

“...this release is a wonderful window on how improv begins, ends, and interconnects. Of utmost importance...is the timbrel range invoked and plumbed throughout. Whether Tippett is tonally matching Dunmall’s double-tined soprano (sounding just a bit Evan Parkerish) or Paul Rogers is bowing bass ever so quietly while Levin shimmers on his cymbals, Mujician is clearly aiming to explore each timbre made possible by this rather standard format ensemble...highly recommended.”
– Andy Bartlett, Cadence, v.20, #10, Oct 1994

“Setting forth a sound and stately quality, the image “Poem About the Hero” really does come to mind. In the Eurojazz format, piano/sax/bass/drums, these individuals go beyond swing and lunge with driven force into the foreground.”
–LS, The Improvisor, v. XI, 1996


“…if you like to hear how music develops in real time, through feedback among talented musicians, then this will be your cup of tea… Poem About the Hero should appeal to those into Ornette Coleman’s free jazz style and the above-mentioned New York scene; because of Dunmall’s style, it may also appeal to those into John Coltrane.”
– Mike Taylor, Gibraltar, v.4, #49, Dec. 18. 1994

“…their free-jazz spirit…builds [an]…effective bridge between fluidity and chaos. Unlike the graduates of the Zorn school, this British quartet doesn’t permit cacophony to rule the day; like the leaping of flames to the sky, they cackle spasmodically before reaching their apex, then having done so, they cause that same sky to alight with sustained rage. What is also forthright about Mujician is that they temper the dischordia around them that speaks the language of rock, but make no mistake – this isn’t ‘fusion’ by any stretch but the sort of contemporary style that grants equal time to bass and piano as well as sax and percussion, begrudging the players’ full dislocation of the instruments’ limitations and range. Albert Ayler meets Henry Cow? Mujician realistically open the possibilities of such a summit meeting on the improvisatory agenda.”
– Darren Bergstein, i/e, Summer 1994

“... a refreshing addition to the archives of improvised music...these improvisations, recorded live in the studio, are as unpretentious as they are discordant, and as uncompromising as they are enjoyable...Mujician assaults the listener with a barrage of sound, so dense and complex, it is hard to believe that it was improvised... One of my favorites this year, Mujician proves that experienced musicians don’t have to sound like they are over the hill. Recommended to jazz-heads, fans of improvisation, or anyone looking for something different.”
– Mike Borella, Exposé, #6, Jan-March 1995

“All four players are vastly experienced improvisors. Their collective interplay often makes it difficult to separate out who is doing what....[Dunmall’s] energy and invention are awesome. Yet to single him out seems wrong, as the same is true of the other three players. This is a collective triumph.”
–John Eyles, Rubberneck, #17, Dec. 1994

“...the players use spontaneous inspiration to guide them through five pieces (called “verses”) varying in length from almost two minutes to just longer than a half-hour. Solos and the interplay between instruments usually pulsate with tension but sometimes quieter moods are defined...There’s a purposeful design and structure to Mujician’s challenging music.”
– Frank-John Hadley, Jazziz, Oct. 1994

“By now, everyone is aware of the liabilities of unlimited freedom – self-indulgent noodling, lots of heat but little light, etc. However, Mujician shows how it can and should be done.... Group members take some fine solos throughout, but the real quality of the performance is in the interplay, whether in various duos, trios or in full quartet. A real test of collective improvisation is the willingness and ability of a group to sustain a full range of dynamics, instead of slipping quickly into the full-tilt collective freakout mode. If you want to know where free jazz is at these days, check this one out.”
– Bill Tilland, Option, #58, Sept/Oct 1994

“Recorded live in England in a single evening...[Mujician] explore the gamut of emotional expression inherent in Hero mythology in five “verses,” two of which journey forth for more than twenty and thirty minutes! These quests involve the struggle and the rapture, the honor and the braggadocio; and most of all, there is fervor in the searching and an embrace of the discoveries make along the way. The mood is sometimes ominous, haunted... at other times, it’s simply resounding as the instrumentalists communicate volumes in an emphatic exchange of harmony and rhythm so lucid it’s a textbook example of collective improvisation.”
– Sam Prestianni, American Music Press, v. III, #4

“This group plays a very refined and tasteful kind of improvisation jazz....These guys may stay within the lines, but they do it very well.”
– Rob Forman, ND, #19, Feb. 1995

“This album is...very welcome. The music is one suite... a lot of space...It is stately music and, I suppose, the Keith Tippett Quartet album for people who prefer him solo.”
–Stuart Riddle, Stride, #37, 1995

Exposé Writer’s Choices, Best of ’94
Mike Borella New releases: #6, Mujician – Poem About the Hero
– Exposé, #6, Jan/March 1995

“...free jazz has developed a tradition and a language which Poem About the Hero unashamedly refers to. It may not be that radical anymore, but Tippett’s ensemble music can still surprise you with the ease of which it can slip in and out of different formal confines – from the rich and balladic, through the microtonal and finespun, to the strident and muscular....[Tippett] is nothing but his own man, and this particular grouping (with saxophonist Paul Dunmall, bassist Paul Rogers and drummer Tony Levin) matches him with players equally adept at forging great technique with the strictly personal.”
– David Ilic, The Wire, #127, Sept. 1994



The Journey (Cuneiform Rune 42) [Sept. 1992]
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“Improvised music, like amateur theater, has suffered at the hands of hacks who aspire to greatness but lack the stuff to make it happen. Saxophone players...breathlessly blowing gibberish and the mediocre diddlings of a hundred rock guitarist have convinced most listeners that improvised music is really just a sleeping pill in disguise. This album wipes that slate clean...Anyone well-versed in contemporary composition will swear these guys are actually playing from an incredibly intricate and well-done score, that’s how flawless this is...If you can devote an hour of your life to simply sitting still and listening to this you’ll be amply rewarded.”
– C.W. Vrtacek, Fairfield County Advocate, Oct. 8, 1992

“In the course of this “spontaneous composition,” this working Brit quartet breathes as a unit, taking the music in quick succession through myriad contrasting episodes, ranging from the quiet and spare to the furious, while leaving each player room to dominate for a while...Each player has a strong voice...They’re individuals, but years together have made them some other kind of animal: a mujician, singular. 4 stars”
– Kevin Whitehead, Down Beat, June 1993

“The band name Mujician comes from the titles of three Keith Tippett solo albums, a combination “musician” and “magician.” This is an appropriate hybrid, as the work here is truly inspired. The Journey is a 55-minute free-form jazz concert by four of England’s finest masters of improvisation...Levin and Rogers create bass rumbles and percussion jungles that have the ability to stand out as compositions on their own. When you listen to this recordings, don’t just concentrate on Dunmall and Tippett. This is a journey, and a journey is a sum of all its footsteps.”
–Michael C. Mahan, Alternative Press, #55, Feb. 1993

“One of the remarkable things about the band...is the extent to which four very forceful improvisors have submerged their personalities in the group. Mujician play unselfconscious, almost egoless music...It’s a delicate philosophical and musical line they tread, but they’ve always done it without compromise....Like saxophonist Paul Dunmall’s woodcuts on the cover, it’s music that exploits very simple black-and-white materials to create a dramatic illusion of space, of bulk, of three-dimensionality, without ever resorting to literalism or thematic parallelism....The Journey is...a major statement by a very fine band.”
– Brian Morton, The Wire, #109, March 1993

“From the medieval stylings of the cover to the decidedly unusual instrumentation (no guitars), Mujician delight with this 55 minute-plus Journey. Recorded live by the BBC, this marvelous, totally improvised piece is at times angry, pensive, regal and dissonant....Mujician’s free-form spirit is as rooted in Coltrane as in the currently fashionable downtown New York Scene.”
– Darren Bergstein, i/e, Winter 1994

“Aptly entitled The Journey, Mujician’s first recording is an unbroken instrumental epic, which leads the listener down the convoluted, topsy-turvy inroads of the musicians’ integrated dynamic. ...all four musicians demonstrate their remarkable creativity and facility by continually developing and reshaping the music throughout the progression of the piece....As one continuous piece, this live spontaneous composition cannot justly be reduced to the sum of its component parts. Its force stems from the dynamic created by the swimming together of four musical currents.”
– Chris Wyrod, The Michigan Daily, Feb. 19, 1993

“This detailed sketch (or massive mural, depending on how you view it) goes to some length in explaining why these fellows are near the top of the heap. “The Journey” is crammed with all kinds of shifts and development, transforming from quiet, almost serene passages to more frenzied moments, to music of a definite, if subtle, lyricism to parts with a more abstract yet visceral attack. It’s an exhausting chunk of free improv that revels in an acute sense of intuition and interaction....it’s sturdy, mesmerizing stuff, rich, deep, and plentiful in character and information. It’s a very worthwhile offering from lesser knowns who shouldn’t be in such a spot...”
– Peter Margasak, Butt Rag, #8, May 1993

“With Mujician’s The Journey...we have a small miracle, a spontaneously improvised large-scale canvas with form, textural variation and forward momentum. ...the trek is marked by masterful musicianship, and ESP-like cognitive collectivism, and a concatenation of ever-shifting yet related musical “events.”...Truly bracing!”
– Bill Milkowski, Jazz Times, Jan/Feb 1993

“The interplay among the four musicians is incredible – this is a listening band. The music may be unfettered and spontaneous, but the players are disciplined and sympathetic to the musical moment....This is a Journey worth taking again and again.”
–Michael P. Dawson, Goldmine, Oct. 2, 1992

“During the one 57-minute piece, the players go through a variety of moods and styles, beginning slow and lyrical with clarinet and bowed bass, continuing into a section of plucked bass and contemplative piano backed by Eastern-sounding drumming, and progressing eventually into all kinds of squaking and bopping. These guys are good at what they do..”
– Scott Lewis, Option, #48, Jan/Feb. 1993

“All four of these guys...are first rate musicians, and on “The Journey”, they are basically playing free-form jazz, a one-hour improv that climbs to some fervent peaks and also glides through some quieter valleys – a very colorful music full of rhythms and counter-rhythms all played effortlessly in a very free and open jazz style...all four of these guys smoke the entire hour, there isn’t a dull moment to be found anywhere – it truly is a journey. For fans of free jazz and other adventurous music, Mujician is a must.”
– Peter Thelen, Exposé, #2, Feb/March 1993

“The Journey is... intense, but achieves its emotional impact by mainly lyrical means. A single 55-minute live improvisation, it sets out without a map or compass, feeling its way towards an unknown destination and never loosing its sense of purpose.”
–Chris Blackford, Jazz Magazine, 1993

“The Journey” is fifty-five minutes long and is one continuous piece. There was no formal mapped out course for this journey, no pre-performance decisions were taken by the band members as to routes or modes of transport, it simply happened as it happened. In my opinion it should be given awards in heaven. I have heard Mujician do such wondrous things many times at gigs, the difference here is that the BBC were there to capture it and did a brilliant job. “The Journey” is well titled because, from its commencement with Paul Dunmall’s exquisite clarinet, to its closing thunder and silence, the piece is being constantly conceived. The mental “fix” that needs to occur in order to shape something as expansive as this music, with its building dynamic, is nothing short of amazing....even more importantly is that “The Journey” is not merely for the fifty-five minutes on the 2nd June 1990. This is a richly rewarding work, so densely packed with beauty that I return to it over and over again.”
–Steve Day, Avant, #2, Summer 1997

“The Journey is in the fine tradition of the Art Ensemble, Roland Kirk or Mingus at his most out: solid, intuitive, organic improvisation with all concerned lending their ears. ...This album is dedicated, inter alia, to Chris McGregor, whose Brotherhood of Breath is an excellent reference point. A- “
– Andrew Jones, Montreal Mirror, Oct. 22-29, 1992

“Mujician...have been together long enough to avoid recycling the same routines. .. Once...Tippett has space to colour the background, the piece again slips closer to that evanescent world of mystery wherein lies its greatest appeal.”
– John Fordham, The Guardian, April 9, 1993

“Mujician plays with such invention, assuredness and empathy, it is easy to forget that “The Journey” unfolds completely spontaneously. It has the architecture, weight and power to move the listener of a scripted classical work and is such a fine performance that it fully merits this digital capturing for posterity.”
– Steve Rowland [England]


General/Interviews etc.

on Tippett:
“I don’t believe Keith Tippett approaches or thinks of his non-scored work as improvisation, at least the way I hear it, the intention still seems to be that of formal composition. “Formal” in the sense that what is played is of a whole. In fact I don’t think I have ever sat down to listen to the man without a strong feeling that I was about to hear a “structural” composition. The fact that it is being composed as I listen is another issue needing to be dealt with, but the rational is that of spontaneous composition not simply spontaneous music; these are two different concepts though not without their similarities. A perfect example of Mr. Tippett’s approach in the context of a band is the first Mujician album entitled “The Journey” (Cuneiform 1990).
–Steve Day, Avant, #2, Summer 1997

Dunmall interview:
“Mujician is certainly the best band I’ve ever played in. It’s unique, it can go in so many different areas because the musicians in the band can cover those areas, they’re not just free players. Then we bring it together in a quartet and the magic of the band works as well... it’s the sensitivity of the musicians listening to each other that makes it work.”
“The thing is to live for the moment. That moment is truth. Once you start to think into the future it is no longer spiritual. It’s no longer the truth. When we play and the audience is listening and we all hit it, at that point there is a huge truth. There’s no more than that at that point for us. Now we all change, so I think we have to take it as it comes.”
– Andy Isham, “Emphasizing with the Spiritual” (interview with Paul Dunmall), Avant, #2, Summer 1997


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