This date commemorates the fourth anniversary (1/19/96) of Dominic Duval’s (1944, NYC, NY) first CIMP recording. The details of that first trip to The Spirit Room can be found in my notes for CIMP 106. The harrowing, even life-threatening, circumstances of that trip in 1996 might have deterred lesser (some might say less foolhardy) individuals (Dominic, Mark Whitecage, Jay Rosen), but Dominic the driver/navigator persevered. And what a fortunate bit of happenstance that has proven to be: in the intervening 4 years, Dominic has gone on to lead a number of sessions, appear on a great deal more– and establish a presence (and dynamic reputation to match)– on the world creative improvised music scene.
Dominic is not, as he has at times been characterized, the CIMP house bassist. CIMP would never have a “house bassist” or house player. The very suggestion is the antithesis of what our focus and purpose is all about. What Dominic is is a force, and it is that creative force that has been so attractive to so many projects and their leaders. Like or dislike his work (he is not without controversy), he is hard to ignore.
To commemorate his 4th anniversary at The Spirit Room, Dominic had originally planned a brass and strings date. Unfortunately, one member of the sextet had overlooked a previous and conflicting commitment and the session had to be canceled. Dominic had been suggesting to me, over the past 2 years or so, the idea of producing a solo date. We did co-produce a solo release for Cadence Jazz Records in 1997 (Nightbird Inventions CJR 1072) and, from that point on, Dominic has been working on the solo concert bass strategy and indeed has presented his solo work both in and outside the United States.
Solo concerts and recording in creative improvised music really began to develop in the last quarter of the 20th century. Even as late as the early 1970s, solo piano recordings were not that common. By the early 1980s, solo recordings by most instruments, while not common, were being documented. Many of those early efforts held attention as a marvel of physical and technical accomplishment. By the ‘90s, well-seasoned to the solo strategy, audiences and musicians familiar and comfortable with the virtuoso aspects began emphasizing statements with content and ideas.
And here we are in 2000 and we simply expect everything. In the past ten years there have been a good number of solo bass recordings, a couple of them outstanding. We know the soul and technology are capable of such things. My insistence as producer and Dominic’s demand as an artist is not just to issue a bass solo recording, but to bring forth a recording of notable music, creative improvised music, and to record it in real time without the fix-it-in-the-mix net.
Dominic arrived late on the 19th, depositing 3 different bass instruments (Prescott bass, Hutchins bass, and a Guitaron) on The Spirit Room floor (allowing them to acclimate from the minus 10°F outside temperature to the warmth of the studio) before going off to sleep.
The next day, Dominic opened the proceedings on the Prescott bass (Law Years) and was, as he said, in a romantic mood.
After a break Dominic began utilizing some of the electronics, again on the Prescott bass. These loops, delays, and other electronic enhancements expand the solo concept and, at the same time, keep it in real time or live time. It also allows the bassist to get soulful with himself. Like all great artists, Dominic is also great of heart and the expansiveness of the electronics, rather than being ornamental and superficial chrome to the proceedings, enlarges the richness of the core. (Improv off I Can’t Get Started, Improv off In a Sentimental Mood.)
After supper we regrouped in The Spirit Room at 8 p.m. and Dominic again picked up the Prescott bass and opened with Scott LaFaro’s Gloria’s Step. Near the conclusion of the piece, one can hear the occasional pop from the fireplace.
Earlier in the day, Dominic had done 4 improvs off It Never Entered My Mind. What is heard here is a fifth improv on the changes. In the third set it all came together and seemed to inspire Dominic to even re-launch into a lengthy coda at about the 5:25 mark.
The examination of the solo bass continued with Dominic freely associating and utilizing a variety of approaches into the midnight hour (Goodbye Porkpie Hat, A Little Heart, Improv Con Electo, Snowflake, Improv off Inchworm).
By the end of the day we had enough material to sustain the long distance listening of a CD. Even so, by late morning of the next day, once again Dominic was in front of the mikes and by the fire. And again he went to the Prescott bass, saying since he felt he still had things he wanted to express on it, that he had decided not to use the other 2 basses on this occasion. From this final session comes New Day and Sinif.
Solo recordings can often be very tedious affairs, demanding the listener to not just hear the music but labor to fill in the whole. What we’ve tried to do here is present a listening experience, a concert that, when given close attention, allows relaxation, focus, and a rewarding intellectual experience without the listener having to suspend their normal approach to the improvised music experience.
Remarkably, to me, this rewards both ephemeral and dedicated listening. Enjoy it either way.
Robert D. Rusch – 1/20/00