DOVER: First Impression. In Hindsight. L’Appel du Vide. MK. Gallapagos. How the Light Gets In. The Fox and the Cat. Imaginary Structures / Levi Dover Sextet: Lex French, tpt; Erik Hove, a-sax; Olivier Salazar, vib; Andrew Boudreau, pno; Dover, bs; Kyle Hutchins, dm / Three Pines Records TPR-004
This CD, scheduled for release on October 8, is the debut album of Montreal-based bassist and jazz writer Levi Dover and his sextet. The publicity blurb for this recording states that they fuse jazz with 20th century classical and rock elements. The 20th century classical I embrace. The rock stuff, you can have.
The one thing that stands out from the opening number, First Impression, is that this is not really an “outside” jazz group, but a collective of modern but mainstream jazz musicians. Indeed, trumpeter Lex French put me in mind of Miles Davis, mixed with a little Gene Shaw. He’s a little busier than Miles was in the 1950s and ‘60s, but employs the same sort of soft approach while remaining interesting. Vibes player Olivier Salazar reminded me more of Bobby Hutcherson than of Terry Gibbs, and his style is both interesting and fits into Dover’s concepts.
Like so many modern jazz composers, Dover’s pieces are more or less outlines for what is to be improvised on, They are not melodically strong or memorable, but they are rhythmically and harmonically interesting without really swinging. In Hindsight is a good example; nothing much seems to be going on in terms of melody, but it’s the harmony and rhythm that inform the piece as a whole and the individual solos as they emerge and retreat. This might suggest to the reader that this is sort of “lounge jazz,” but despite its low-key (and low volume) approach, this is not so. The music has substance and direction; it’s just more subtle than overt. Alto saxist Eric Hove seems to be channeling Lee Konitz, and that works well in this setting.
With all that being said, I really did long to hear at least one line (composition) with a structure that I could hold on to…but then, look at the album’s title and you’ll get an idea of what Dover is striving for. It’s the illusion if structure that plays into one’s mind and perceptions, not the reality of structure.
An interesting album to be sure, as well as a different approach to modern jazz while still leaning a bit on the past.
—© 2021 Lynn René Bayley
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