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Devin Gray — Dirigo Rataplan II
(Rataplan, 2018, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2018-12-05

Dirigo Rataplan II Cover art

At the heart of Dirigo Rataplan is drummer and composer Devin Gray. Six years after their first eponymous release the group is back together for a second take. Gray provides interesting and flowing percussive rhythms, perhaps inspired to a degree by elements of world music, in these ten instrumental jazz compositions. The group also features acoustic bassist Michael Formanek, who has played on dozens if not hundreds of recordings both as collaborator and session man going all the way back to the early 1990s, and the chemistry between Formanek and Gray is the magic that holds these pieces together. The front line features saxophonist Ellery Eskelin and trumpeter Dave Ballou, the latter with over a dozen solo releases and the former with twice that, these are master musicians that have been working the turf for many years and have earned their due. The compositions tend to be quite solid on the bottom end and offer the frontline room to spontaneously create and breathe feeling in to the melodies, Ballou and Eskelin seemingly working some kind of alchemy together, at times they seem to be drifting and wandering around but in a moment they come back tight as ever. One can listen to this as soothing background music that won’t interrupt the listener’s thoughts, or as a concentrated listening experience, hanging on to the expessive emotional outpuring of every note and beat like an ongoing adventure, and there is certainly plenty of it if you’re willing to follow along. It works well on a number of levels.


Filed under: New releases, 2018 releases

Related artist(s): Devin Gray

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