Dennis Gonzalez Connecticut Quartet | Songs Of Early Autumn | No Business Records

Dennis Gonzalez – C trumpet; | Joe Morris – bass; | Timo Shanko – tenor sax; | Luther Gray – drums

Tracks : 1. Loft 9’18” | 2. Acceleration 11’19” | 3. Bush Medicine 12’14” | 4. Idolo 10’13” | 5. In Tallation 6’57” | 6. Lamentation 7’45” | 7. Those Who Came Before 14’58” | 8. Loyalty 5’31”

This record has been made possible by generous support of UAB “Garsu pasaulis”. NoBusiness Records NBCD 6, 2009, edition of 1000 cd’s. * Bush Medicine, Idolo, and Loyalty are by Dennis Gonzalez (daagnimMusic). All other compositions are group improvisations. * Recorded by Dennis Gonzalez at Riti Studios – Guilford, Connecticut. * Remixed by Dennis Gonzalez with assistance from Joe Morris at Meio Dia Studios – Dallas, Texas. * Mastered by Arūnas Zujus at MAMAstudios. * Design by Oskaras Anosovas. * Executive producer – Danas Mikailionis. * Co-producers – Dennis Gonzalez and Valerij Anosov.

Four great musicians met in Connecticut. The result is expressed on this outstanding musical document. We are proud and happy to release it on NoBusiness Records. We hope that you will share our emotions and enjoy this adventurous musical journey.


Liner Notes for “Songs Of Early Autumn”

It’s almost a month into autumn, and driving through New England is exhiliarating, as the trees are vivid with color, and fallen leaves line the country lanes along Narragansett Bay and Long Island Sound. This is the first chance I’ve had to travel since midsummer. A bit of snow falls as I arrive in Guilford, and the temperature has fallen.

After playing that August with a quintet that included Joe Morris – the gig is documented on the Clean Feed CD No Photograph Available – he’d suggested that I take a few days to come up to Connecticut to do some playing with him, and maybe do a record while we were at it. Joe had asked Timo Shanko, one of Boston’s finest bassists, and at the time of this recording quickly becoming one of its great tenor saxophonists as well; and drummer Luther Gray to join the session. They are expected soon, probably following the same road I’ve taken from Boston for the afternoon session in Joe’s loft studio, still unheated, although the work to change it into a playing space has obviously begun.

Early afternoon has come, and all four of us are in place behind our microphones, with cold hands and noses. There are serious moments, and lots of joking around, like at the beginning of “Those Who Came Before”, where Timo begins to yodel and beat his chest…you can hear us laughing and snickering in the background…

But as the music unfolds, the chill is soon forgotten, and time flies, the songs coming easily. And before we know it, we have 100 minutes of pretty fine music which Joe and I have pared down to just over 78 minutes for this release.–  Dennis Gonzalez

Dennis Gonzalez Connecticut Quartet | Songs Of Early Autumn | no business records


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4 thoughts on “Dennis Gonzalez Connecticut Quartet | Songs Of Early Autumn | No Business Records

  1. Lorsque, sur l’invitation de son ami Joe Morris, Dennis Gonzalez se rend dans le Connecticut, l’automne imprime aux paysages de la Nouvelle Angleterre ses couleurs et sa lumière particulières. Arrivé à Guilford, au domicile de Joe, la neige se met à tomber et la température a sérieusement baissé. Dennis Gonzalez et Joe Morris avaient déjà joué ensemble quelques mois plus tôt, au cœur de l’été, pour la session No Photograph Avaible, éditée par Clean Feed, et c’est naturellement qu’ils se retrouvent alors pour prolonger leur collaboration musicale. Aux côtés de Joe Morris, guitariste mais jouant ici de la contrebasse : Timo Shanko, contrebassiste mais soufflant ici dans un saxophone et Luther Gray, batteur… jouant de la batterie !

    Le nez froid, les doigts gourds, les hommes attaquent alors la session et tout se suite la musique déployée se pare de chaudes couleurs, d’une joie partagée de défier les intempéries. Si l’on devait lui offrir une filiation, on évoquerait le Old and New Dreams. Parce que le groove y est véloce et heureux (Loft). Mais aussi pour les mélodies enfantines déployées par Dennis Gonzalez qui se faufilent entre les fantômes d’une rythmique troublante (Acceleration). Enfin, pour la contrebasse élastique, sautillante, comme dansant sur une batterie qui fait la part belle aux toms et se connecte ainsi au pouls des percussions africaines (Bush Medicine). On pense aussi beaucoup à Albert Ayler, pour la pratique d’un free jazz tantôt emporté (In Tallation), tantôt méditatif (Lamentation).

    On pense, finalement, au cycle des saisons, à cet éternel retour mais aux couleurs changeantes, à ce continuum qu’est la musique inventée par les africains américains au 20ème siècle, qu’on appelle jazz, et dont nous est livré ici un exemple incroyablement vivant.

  2. I’ve probably stated this a few times elsewhere, but the dictum is true – that the music of the 1960s could not be played by today’s musicians simply because they are too technically proficient and know too much. Nevertheless, it’s sometimes refreshing to hear a player so hungry to make music that perhaps the record button is pressed before much wood-shedding has been done.

    Timo Shanko, normally thought of as a bassist, apparently hadn’t been biting the reed long when Songs of Early Autumn was recorded in 2005, under the leadership of trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez. That’s not to say he isn’t a “good” saxophonist – quite the contrary, he’s got a burnished tone and his phrase construction is based on meaty, barking lines. He and Gonzalez make an excellent front-line pair, the trumpeter’s steely punch shoring up Shanko’s screaming rough edges.

    Luther Gray and Joe Morris (on bass) make up the rhythm section, a loosely-knit surge of constant bedrock melody and ambiguous time. The session was recorded around the same time as Gonzalez’ No Photograph Available (Clean Feed) and, while not quite the hairy revivalism of that date, Songs of Early Autumn is an impressively natty disc.

  3. One of those unifying figures who maintains an enthusiasm for pure improvised music and encourages others, trumpeter Dennis González has been following this path towards experimentation almost single-handedly for over 30 years in his hometown of Dallas.

    An artists and educator with a home studio, over time he has established links with similarly inclined players in New Orleans, California and in Europe. Recently in fact his gigs in the Eastern United States have become more frequent. These notable CDs, for instance – featuring two different sets of playing partners – are the results of the trumpeter’s recent eastward treks.

    Although González brings the same distinctive mixture of melodic invention, high-class technique, contrafact creation and quote elaboration to both sessions, each is oriented towards a different configuration. It may be that A Matter of Blood has deeper Free Jazz blood lines, since one of the participants is bassist Reggie Workman, whose associations include membership in an early John Coltrane quartet. Pianist Curtis Clark spent time in Amsterdam and has recorded with everyone from fiddler Billy Bang to saxophonist Sean Bergin. Meanwhile drummer Michael T. A. Thompson has recorded with González in the past, as well as with bassist William Parker and saxophonist Kidd Jordan.

    If Brooklyn-recorded A Matter of Blood is a Free Jazz variant on the Miles-Davis-with-rhythm-section concept, then the Connecticut-created Songs of Early Autumn relates to the two-horn-two-rhythm dates that became legion after the New Thing emerged in the mid-1960s. Among the other players here is Joe Morris, a long-time advanced guitarist who has turned himself into an estimable bassist. Saxophonist Timo Shanko was part of the Fully Celebrated Orchestra, while drummer Luther Gray has worked with pianist Steve Lantner and saxophonist Rob Brown.

    On A Matter of Blood, the trumpeter’s lyrical qualities are brought out by the pianist’s light-fingered, romantic tendencies. But Workman’s powerful strumming as well as Thompson’s mixture of regular time-keeping plus bravura manipulation of various parts of his kit keeps any softening slides in check. The bassist’s double-stopped and carefully angled bass lines are most likely to set the scene, while octave jumps, key slides and tremolo invention are exhibited throughout.

    González’s “Arbyrd Lumenal” for instance evolves in such a way that Clark’s patterning cadences are hardened with key fanning and picking so as to extend Workman’s muscular chiming and González’s double-tongued slurs. As the trumpeter moves up the scale chromatically he’s chased by cascading piano lines plus shuffles and bounces from the drummer. Workman’s ability to keep the beat while also creating sul tasto rubs are also highlighted. But this discordance leaves ample room for the trumpeter’s grace notes to sound with maximum lyricism.

    “Chant de la Fée” in contrast is taken andante and fortissimo, built around stabbing piano keys, spiccato bass strings and brass reverb. As the composition’s evolving color scheme shifts, Clark’s pianism involves parallel construction where nearly every stroke is matched by another in a complementary key. Making his own way among this undertow of ringing arpeggios and reverberating soundboard textures, Thompson shakes and quivers small percussion implements as well as crash cymbals.

    Collective culmination, each quartet member distinguishes himself on the title track. This collaboration involves Thompson’s thick rim shots and bass drum pumps; Workman’s doubled picking and carefully measured strokes; Clark’s cross-pulsed riffs which work up to sharp and kinetic chording; as well as González’s plunger riffs and undulating mellow timbres. Before the finale of downward shifting piano arpeggios mixed with flowing bass strokes, the trumpeter fires off triple-tongued, tremolo tones backed by the drummer’s opposite sticking and cymbal snapping.

    Quixotically more atonal, yet more obviously wedded to the tradition, Songs of Early Autumn subtly bows to the song form as Energy Music. “Loft”, the very first tune, for instance, may balance on sharpened reed bites, screams and honks from Shanko; rebounds and ratamascus from Gray; and triple-tongued connections from the trumpeter, but González also manages to repeatedly work a few quotes from “April in Paris” into his solos.

    In a similar fashion “Those Who Came Before” – how’s that title for a clue as to the musicians’ sentiments? – includes a hint of Spanish melancholy in the midst of Morris’ solo. Expanding verbal yodeling with mocking cries and dense reed-biting from his tenor saxophone, earlier on Shanko harmonizes his reed phrasing with smooth, grace notes from the trumpeter. When the tonal centre shifts to ragged-and-rough contrapuntal horn blowing during the instant composition’s mid-section, the two echo one another’s cries on top of triple-stopping from the bassist plus cymbal cracks from Gray. Moving into the home stretch, the piece is divided between double-stopped, bent and strummed notes from Morris and echoing flutters from both horns. The rubato and rococo concordance worked up by the saxophonist and trumpeter finds Shanko growls and flutter-tonguing paying homage to Albert Ayler, while González’s capillary narrative is more technically sophisticated than anything played by Donald Ayler.

    Shanko’s frequent reaffirmations of Ayler’s influence throughout are tempered by his chromatic forays into perpendicular Latinesque runs – encouraged by rough tonguing from the trumpeter as on “Bush Medicine”. Completing the improvisations so that the tune ends up being more variations then theme Gray’s snare strokes and cross-sticking precede surging flutters from the trumpeter before the saxman snorts the head one final time. “Lamentation” is a group improv that slides from mellow to mercurial as González’s whinnies and tongue slaps and Shanko’s wiggles and slurs. After the horns circle each other concentrically they attain harmonic unison.

    González’s more frequent forays away from his home base are beginning to produce a series of memorable collaborations with other players. On the evidence here, add two more dates to that collection.

  4. “Songs Of Early Autumn” is possibly the best adapted for this season of the year, and it was recorded at an improvised meeting in the not yet heated (and therefore chilly) home of Joe Morris, who plays bass on this album. González and him are joined by this other bass-player turned tenor saxophonist Timo Shanko, and with Luther Gray on drums. Morris and González had played before on “No Photograph Available” and apparently the collaboration was worth a follow-up. Three of the eight tracks are compositions by González, all the other pieces are group improvisations in the real free (bop) tradition. The album starts highly rhythmic, uptempo with steady bass vamps and drum lines, and both horn players get all the space they need to enjoy us with their skills (and I laughed out loud because it is such fun at moments). But the album is balanced, with slower, more moody pieces, allowing the horn players to show another perspective, and I must say that Shanko outdoes himself, reaching the improvisational emotional power of González, howling, screeching, wailing, going deep, deep, deep, and making this again a great album.

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