Released October 21, 2022
!! Note CD Bundle Available Above, together
w/ Whit Dickey Quartet – Astral Long Form
[TAO12] - CD in heavyweight digipak
Tony Malaby: tenor saxophone
Matthew Shipp: piano
Brandon Lopez: bass
Whit Dickey: drums, compositions
“Every gesture and nuance of [Dickey’s] percussive pronunciation is telling.”
–Thomas Conrad, JazzTimes
“I get into music not just by playing but by accessing a vibration,” says drummer Whit Dickey, a stalwart of New York’s improvised music scene whose brand new work directing yet another formidable quartet, Root Perspectives, gets to the heart of what he means by that elliptical phrase. It’s the latest recording from Dickey’s label TAO Forms, which since its 2020 founding has released some of the freshest material in recent memory, including James Brandon Lewis’ poll-winning Jesup Wagon, and Dickey’s own highly inspired works, Expanding Light and Astral Long Form: Staircase in Space.
With Root Perspectives – recorded in May, on the day after releasing Astral Long Form – Whit Dickey and associates continue to create & explore new terrain.
“I conceived this album off of a vibration that I felt some 15 years ago, while obsessively listening to the title composition of John Coltrane’s Crescent,” he recalls. “It began to have mathematical meaning to me.” The sound and energy of a tenor-based quartet was a logical choice; this presents the first encounter between Dickey and master saxophonist Tony Malaby, along with one of Dickey’s closest associates, Matthew Shipp, and the youngest of the group, agile and inventive bassist Brandon Lopez.
Dickey began exploring this enigmatic Coltrane angle on Peace Planet (AUM Fidelity, 2019) with the TAO Quartet featuring Shipp, bassist William Parker and altoist Rob Brown. On Root Perspectives, Dickey explains, he strove to flesh it out in more detail:
“While listening to Crescent and A Love Supreme, I tried to rhythmically anticipate each instrument of the classic quartet — drums, bass, horn and piano — while keying into the mantra/vibration. I began to hear how each instrument embodied the mantra in subtly different ways. On this album, I came into the studio with a plan to tap into the drum part of the mantra, and let the quartet rise from there. Listening back, I was quite happy with what I heard. I play with lots of deliberate bass drum punctuation, leaving room for inventive thematic development from the Yang frontline of Malaby and Shipp. Drums and bass are comparatively Yin here. The pieces came into sequence naturally in suite form. Out of the devastation of ‘Supernova’ and ‘Doomsday Equation’ comes new life with ‘Swamp Petals’ and ‘Starship Lotus’.”
Malaby’s root perspective is one of determined grit and fire. “He’s very responsive, and very inventive,” Dickey marvels. “His playing has tremendous resonance. And he responds so well to Matthew, whose protean rhythmic, harmonic & melodic playing on this album is elemental to everything. And then there’s Brandon, a younger guy who is a lot of fun to work with. He’s really using the whole bass, all aspects of it, sometimes using his hands almost like congas.”
That and other Latin aspects of Lopez’s playing complement Dickey’s unique, multi-directional and spare approach to the whole of the drum kit. “Conceptually, it’s a drum-centric album,” says the leader, pointing to the impact of the late, great Milford Graves. “His Afro-Cuban, timbale-like approach to the drum kit made a lasting impression on me when I was his student at Bennington College.” This variation of color and sonority informs Dickey’s root perspective as well. Taking inspiration from master teachers, the Tao, and the players assembled around him, Dickey has found a musical center that grows more profound with each passing year.
1. Supernova - 11:02
2. Doomsday Equation - 09:34
3. Swamp Petals - 16:34
4. Starship Lotus - 13:10
All compositions by Whit Dickey,
in collaboration with the Quartet;
© TAO Forms
Recorded, Mixed & Mastered by Jim Clouse
at Park West Studios, Brooklyn in May 2022
Produced by Whit Dickey
Liner notes by Mia Hansford
Art & Design by William Mazza Studio