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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Deep Joy Quartet @ Central Bar, Gateshead. Friday 25 May

Paul Dunmall (tenor & soprano saxophones, pipes), Paul Rogers (double bass), Mark Sanders (drums) & Miles Levin (drums)
Drummer Tony Levin died some fifteen months ago. A stalwart of the British modern jazz scene and for many years a committed participant on the European free jazz scene, Deep Joy would have won his approval. Formed to celebrate Levin’s legacy, the musicians hold him in the highest regard. Reeds virtuoso Paul Dunmall and bassist Paul Rogers worked with Levin for many years, notably in Mujiician. Indeed the free-jazz group with Levin behind the traps played a final concert a little more than 100 metres from the Central Bar in Gateshead Old Town Hall before he became too ill to continue working.
The Levin name lives on with son Miles Levin, himself an accomplished drummer, as one of two percussionists in the line-up. The other, Mark Sanders, an established name on the scene, led one to wonder how successful a two-drum combo would be. The competitive element should be absent in a free jazz context yet there was, surely, ego-driven respect between the two. The imperturbable Rogers acted as moderator although the sound balance didn't do him any favours in the narrow, restricted upstairs venue. Dunmall, without question a world-class musician, found ‘deep joy’ in the music making. Eyes closed, immersed in the group sound, he contributed stunning work on tenor, then soprano and on one occasion pipes (genus unspecified!). Levin and Sanders couldn't resist keeping the pot boiling. The propulsive effect of the two proved unrelenting yet Sanders found time and space to broaden the palette in typical free style. A highlight of the evening featured Sanders and Rogers (Dunmall and Levin dropped-out) in a wonderful exchange of ideas culminating in spontaneous applause from the select but appreciative audience.
Russell

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