Paul Dunmall: Bright Light A Joyous Celebration

Veteran avant-gardian Dunmall is joined by two other saxophonists, Soweto Kinch and Xhosa Cole, plus rhythm in four originals and one improv


Paul Dunmall has recorded prolifically throughout his musical life, yet has often remained modestly in the shadows of more famous contemporaries, despite his undoubted mastery. All of which makes this new album, recorded as he approached his 70th birthday, a wondrous event.

Extending the long musical friendship he has enjoyed with master drummer Hamid Drake and joined by a younger generation of musicians, he has created a wonderful album, full of energy and commitment. Four of the five tracks are based on simple heads by Paul, the fifth, I’ve Had A Lot, freely improvised; all were recorded in one take.

Individually, each of the three saxophonists contributes fine solos. Dunmall is both abstract and songlike in his lines, matched by Soweto Kinch’s likewise abstract approach on alto and Xhosa Cole’s gruff tenor, but this is essentially an interactive group performance driven by Hamid Drake’s drums alongside Dave Kane’s strong bass lines and Corey Mwamba’s well-judged contributions on vibes. Corey Mwamba is consistently passionate and exciting, notably on the often cacophonous Many Sparrows, while Hamid Drake is the proverbial powerhouse, providing both rhythm and colour.

Two standout tracks are the initially pensive and then dance-like shuffle of I’ve Had A Lot and the glorious township jazz of the title track, but in truth all are their own highlights. The vibrant cover, featuring paintings by Dunmall, is indicative of the affirmative music within: indeed, this is a truly joyous celebration.

You Look Away; Many Sparrows; Disbelief; I’ve Had A Lot; Bright Light A Joyous Celebration (56.01)
Dunmall (ss, ts); Soweto Kinch (as, ts); Xhosa Cole (ts); Corey Mwamba (vib); Dave Kane (b); Hamid Drake (d). Birmingham, 14 November 2022.
Discus 162CD