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Dennis González Ataraxia Trio+2 - Nights Enter

Nick Ostrum, The Free Jazz Collective

This release has a notable provenance. Apparently, Stéphane Berland, who runs Ayler Records, encouraged Dennis González to compose music to accompany a piece of art Dennis had created with his granddaughter. (See the cover for the artwork.) Dennis obliged, pulled together a group of collaborators (bassist Drew Phelps and percussionist Jagath Lakpriya of González’s Ataraxia Trio, moog-man Derek Rogers, and harpist Jess Garland) and created this wonderfully ethereal and probing release.

Nights Enter is somewhat of a departure for González’s work on Ayler Records, though it certainly evokes the meditative fusion of Ataraxia’s first release, Ts'iibil Chaaltun. Much as on the previous release, Phelps’ bass and Lakpriya’s tabla and djembe keep the music grounded and speak to an atavistic ritualism. Roger’s moog, Garland’s harp (especially on the wistfully brittle "Approaching Dawn"), and González’s distant and sometimes echoed trumpet, however, lift Nights Enter into a different realm that touches on ECM ambience, but maintains a warmth, roughness, and oddity ("Göbelki Tepe") that keep this release a thing apart. For his part, González’s playing is impeccable, and stylistically more evocative of Markus Stockhausen than his choppy downtown free jazz work. Even for those who are already steeped in González’s catalogue, this one is a real treat.