Paul Dunmall Quintet featuring Hamid Drake

Hamid Drake (Photo © Garry Corbett)

Hamid Drake (Photo © Garry Corbett)

Pictures and words by Garry Corbett

Hexagon Theatre at MAC, Birmingham UK

As the music began last night I couldn’t help bringing to mind the title of Val Wilmer’s book on the musical achievements of Ornette Coleman, Coltrane, Albert Ayler and others, As Serious As Your Life. My anticipation was that this would indeed be serious stuff given the pedigree of those involved and that this was free jazz.

As it transpired it was not only an evening of serious improvised music but an evening of joyous celebration. We were treated to an hour and a half continuous journey through six movements of organic, ever changing, ever shifting music. The titles of these seamless interlinked pieces give a clue to the mood created by each: Dreamtime, Warning, Call An Elephant, Frame Drum, It Dawned On Me and Sacred Hymn.

Paul Dunmall (Photo © Garry Corbett)

Paul Dunmall (Photo © Garry Corbett)

Along the way we experienced freedom, structure and a multi-instrumental approach with Dunmall taking up the whistle to solo at one point before stating the theme on Call An Elephant with Percy Pursglove echoing the line in unison on trumpet. Later both played bagpipes (though I’m not sure my description does the instruments justice) creating a unique mood from what to my ears can often be a harsh sounding and difficult-to-listen-to instrument.

Drummer Hamid Drake who could be seen frequently smiling from behind his kit came centre stage to play frame drum, adding a world music feel to proceedings while bass player Dave Kane bowed his instrument. The concluding section, Sacred Hymn, had a Coltranesque feel with a majestic theme stated by Dunmall on tenor saxophone with Steve Tromans adding some hang drum like sounds on keyboard. A stately ending to a very powerful and moving evening’s music.

The attentive capacity audience offered up prolonged and loud applause with smiles all round from the musicians who had clearly had a great time themselves. The Hexagon at MAC proved to be the ideal venue for this warm celebration which was recorded for broadcast by BBC Radio 3 on Monday 17 October. Congratulations to Tony Dudley Evans and Fizzle for promoting another evening of fine contemporary improvised music.

  • For more of Garry Corbett’s photographs, go HERE.

Categories: Live review

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1 reply


  1. Drake, Dunmall and band on the radio tonight – thejazzbreakfast

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