Live review by Paul Donnelly at the Frakture Festival in Liverpool, October 2002
The Dunmall trio set started and ended with the saxophonist jingling small bells while Rogers attacked his elegant six-string double bass with the bow. I know that in these ensembles no one player ought to stand out but this bass man did. He caressed, hugged, wrestled with and seemed a part of the instrument. At times I'd swear both he and it hovered inches above the ground as he strummed and extracted waves of dark notes and bowed chords. He looked like someone inspired, the bass and player becoming one. When he soloed you could have heard the dust motes settling around the room.
Dunmall produced lyrically assertive runs from the soprano sax, sitting with eyes closed, before taking up a small double panpipe to counterpoint the energetic bass. He also spat jagged soprano flurries, as terse as Roger's acerbic bowing. When he switched to bagpipes he extracted distressed ululations, both harsh and raw whilst remaining fluent and exciting. It was easy to hear the jazz influences as well as folk musics from the UK and elsewhere. At one point a Balkan melody seemed to emerge at others a ghostly pibroch.
At times Gibbs' electric guitar seemed overshadowed by the sheer energy generated by the other two players. He played it on his lap, plucking and scraping, and at one point it sounded more like a thumb piano than a six string guitar. He picked and pressed the strings to add strands of colour and texture but often it sounded thin, especially when Rogers was at his most ebullient and inspired. Towards the end of the set he coaxed melodic overtones alongside Dunmall's little bells while the audience held its collective breath. I couldn't quite believe it was over and Keith Tippett's assertion about music suspending chronological time came to mind.
Those who were there will no doubt remember this as a high point of the festival, enthralling and challenging music delivered with authority and even a bit of humour. (© Paul Donnelly, 2002)
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