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Dennis González Yells At Eels - Cape of Storms

Stuart Kremsky, IAJRC Journal

When master drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo (the very same Louis Moholo who played with the South African Blue Notes) wrote to say that he was coming to visit, Dennis González & Yells At Eels were ready to welcome him and make some music together. They weren’t going to let something as inconsequential as a massive snowstorm or a cancelled concert get in their way. Cape of Storms documents Moholo-Moholo’s brief collaboration with trumpeter Dennis González’s family-based ensemble for shows in Dallas and New Orleans with ten smartly sequenced and well-recorded pieces. It’s clear from the very first notes that Moholo-Moholo’s steady chatter and complex beat meshes well with Stefan González’s vibes.

Brother Aaron González anchors the band with his steady and very physical bass. His duet with an active Moholo-Moholo on the opening Document for Walt Dickerson is just one of this disc’s many highlights. Aaron’s inspired and intense bass solo feature, Interlude: A Desert Hidden in the Waves, weds stunning technique with emotional directness. Aaron and Moholo-Moholo launch into Tag, with Dennis Gonzalez’s pungent brass darting in and out of the bare-bones high life theme.

Dennis González takes it alone on Interlude: Gecka, exercising his vulnerable and conversational sound in lyrical and playful fashion. Saxophonist Tim Green makes his first appearance on Cape of Storms I with his inquisitive and deliberately paced approach to this free ballad. A vivid Dennis González follows his minimalist accompaniment by bass and drums. Interlude: Internal Dialogue, Eternal Pulse gets everyone into the act on percussion. Next up is the free-bopping Tranquilidad Alborotadora, heard in the first of two takes that move in different directions. Dennis González takes the lead on the first, while Aaron, Stefan and Moholo-Moholo start off the second version with a spirited trio, setting the stage for a curious solo by Tim Green that seems to come at the music sideways as he probes and interacts with the rhythm section.

Dennis González’s appropriately sinuous Snakehandler concludes the proceedings with some of the hardest rhythms of the date, a pair of bravura expressive brass solos, and the kind of winding down that comes from a job well done. Cape of Storms is a generous helping of powerful modern free bop, with an emphasis on the blues and bop part of the genre, and seriously recommended.