Dana Fitzsimons: Fault Lines

Atlanta-based drummer leads piano and bass in free interpretations of a wide repertoire including Joni Mitchell and Rodgers & Hart

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With a degree in music from Ithaca College and one in law from William and Mary Law School, Atlanta-based drummer Dana Fitzsimons has built a reputation in both music and as a trusts and estates attorney.

As he notes in an accompanying press release, the pandemic intervened between conception of this free-style jazz album and its recording. Consequently, he and his collaborators were unable to meet and play together. Nevertheless, the result clearly demonstrates that all three men are musically and intellectually attuned with one another.

Although he is the leader, Fitzsimons does not dominate the session and the group’s playing throughout is grounded by his playing and that of bassist Brandon Boone, while the prominent soloist is pianist Bill Graham, who is credited as composer of six of the 11 themes upon which the improvised music is built.

Some of the pieces, such as the opener, are urgent and propulsive while Agitation Lullaby is thoughtful. Crystals is a collective improvisation and, contrastingly, Graham stays close to the melodic charm of Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart’s Where Or When. Another deeply thoughtful improvisation is Ice Bridges Before Road, and also included here is It Should’ve Happened A Long Time Ago, Fitzsimons’ tribute to fellow drummer Paul Motion. On Weeble Wobbles, the trio’s collective skill is displayed through complex use of interwoven time signatures.

The group shows its readiness to draw on many sources of music with the closing track, Joni Mitchell’s Amelia, an inherently charming work even when freed of its lyrics. The ability of these three musicians to play free jazz while remaining rooted in the genre’s broader forms is demonstrated with Intersections, with its freely improvised core that is preceded and followed by fully composed sections.

This release will appeal especially to those who favour the jazz avant-garde.

Discography
Slant Anagrams; Agitation Lullaby; Crystals; Ice Bridges Before Road; Borders; Number Six; Where Or When; It Should’ve Happened A Long Time Ago; Weeble Wobbles; Intersections; Amelia (60.10)
Fitzsimons (d); Bill Graham (p); Brandon Boone (b). prob. Athens, GA. 3 & 4 January 2022.
Self-released, no contact or website provided