By: Edward Blanco
A stalwart of the Australian Jazz scene, drummer Andrew Dickeson decides to step out on his own after a 25-year career as a sideman to such legends as Mark Murphy, Lee Konitz, Red Holloway, Junior Cook and Johnny Griffin among others. He does so with a superbly crafted debut album entitled Weaver of Dreams, recorded live at The Sound Stage in Sydney, Australia, as part of a concert for the Sydney Improvised Music Association (SIMA). Dickeson leads an aspiring quintet of players with veteran tenor saxophonist Roger Manins who joins trumpeter Eamon McNelis in fronting pianist Steve Barry and bassist Alex Boneham—all rising stars down under.
Borrowing from the Great American Songbook, the drummer includes sparkling arrangements from giants of jazz like the one and only Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon and Billy Strayhorn among the mix. Written by Harold Arlen for the last show at the famed Cotton Club Parade in 1934, “Ill Wind” starts the music rolling on the first swinging piece of the album and the first of several lengthy tunes with this one clocking in at fourteen-minutes plus. McNelis introduces and leads the music on Strayhorn’s ballad “Isfahan,” with soft phrasings on the trumpet as the leader swishes the brushes on the first laid back tune of the set.
Playing a bit of Cuban descarga, the group gyrates to Dexter Gordon’s classic “Soy Califa” with Dickeson’s strong percussive charge setting the beat on this one. Though the piece begins in the Latin mode, it shifts to a more modern jazz number for most of its thirteen-minute romp featuring a sizzling solo performance from the saxophonist. The band enters calmly on the Van Heusen standard “Darn That Dream” with Manins’ strong tenor voice leading the music once again on the other decidedly mellow tune of the set.
Victor Young’s title song is perhaps the most ambitious number of the project clocking in at over fifteen-minutes in duration; this one is a Dickeson special arrangement as the leader opens the tune on a three-minute drum solo followed by sprite solos from Manins and McNelis respectively. There’s a playful duet between bassist Boneham and the drummer on Parker’s “Big Foot,” while Bobby Hutcherson’s lively “Herzog” provides pianist Barry a moment to shine, as the live set closes with a last solo dicey drum rumble from Dickeson on the finale piece “Relaxin’ At Camarillo.”
Though clearly a drummer’s album, Andrew Dickeson’s Weaver of Dreams takes pages from the Great American Songbook and reinvigorates old warn out classic with an infusion on modern jazz jam that is both bold and entertaining. The cheers and applause from the crowd at The Sound Stage, affirms that the music on this impressive debut, will certainly give jazz audiences everywhere many moments of musical pleasure.
Year: 2011 Label: Rufus Records Artist Web: www.andrewdickeson.com