Of the four artistic entities participating in Kithara – a recording which occurred in Bristol, October 2010 – the only one I was not veritably acquainted with is that of guitarist Gibbs. A scary feeling pervades this listener whenever an axe-man is a part of an ensemble whose interplay is linked to free jazz and improvisation, however in this case the subject’s behavior is absolutely acceptable and never disrespectful. No blasting of scenic post-bop lines whatsoever, or – worse – useless overdriven screaming: Gibbs is well encapsulated in the collective jargon, an efficiently humble contribution, adding soft, clean-ish chatter and rare nervous surges, with nothing sounding ff-the-wall.
On the other hand, we have Dunmall as… Dunmall. The man can be a fury – sometimes he tends to accelerate the process of mutation from passionate virtuoso to monster – yet his role as the axis of the whole project (quite obvious given the invasive nature of the tenor saxophone) is defined by a total control of dynamics and number of notes played; he definitely understands when the foot must not push the gas pedal completely down. Either in glowing runs or meditative sketches, listening to that reed’s mature voice remains pure pleasure.
Rogers (on 7-string bass) and Sanders create an irregularly pulsating habitat for the rhythm to expand and contract depending on necessity, the timbral amalgamation not comparable to anything else. The extended range of the bass allows its manager to decentralize the activities related to the bottom area of frequencies, occasionally throwing in bundles of cello-like discordant clusters. Sanders’ drumming is delicately questioning, momentous in terms of color more than noise, ever aware of where the flux of the joint action should go.