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Dennis González Yells At Eels - Colorado at Clinton

Stuart Kremsky, IAJRC Journal

The family band Dennis González Yells At Eels, featuring the Dallas-based trumpeter and sons Aaron and Stefan on bass and drums, expands to a quartet on Colorado at Clinton with the addition of saxophonist Aakash Mittal. Mittal was a childhood friend of Stefan González until the Attal family moved away. Re-establishing contact via Facebook, Mittal revealed that he’d taken up the alto saxophone, and had studied with Rudresh Mahanthappa and Ravish Momin. Naturally enough, a musical encounter had to be arranged. The result is this extremely satisfying disc with beautifully poised performances by the quartet of compositions by Mittal and Dennis González. The trumpeter’s Devil’s Slide is a mini-suite with several natural-sounding shifts in tempo and feeling. It includes potent solos by Mittal and Dennis González, extremely active and responsive drumming by Stefan González, and brashly assertive bass playing by Aaron González. Like so many effective opening tracks, it introduces you to the individual talents of the musicians as well as how they fit together. Mittal’s Shadows is a slow-moving sort-of-ballad, with the horns trading lines on top of conversational bass and Stefan’s concentrated brushwork. The altoist’s other piece is Shades Of India, an interpretation of John Coltrane’s India which brings the cycle of influences to a dizzying (and temporary) resting point. Mittal’s tone on alto is thick and solid, and seems centered in the lower ranges of his horn. His lengthy solo on India includes an interesting section of call and response with himself, a strategy that Coltrane used to great effect. The González brothers keep the rhythms churning, but even their energetic playing can’t keep the piece from sounding overlong at just over fourteen minutes. Dennis González’ gorgeous Constellations on the Ground is a percussion-less tone poem. The piece begins with a succession of long rising and falling tones held by brass, saxophone and bowed bass separated by brief rests. The three engage in a mournful colloquy starting around the three minute mark, and the mood is lovingly sustained until they regroup for a reprise of the stately opening. The closer is Dokonori Shiito, another Dennis González piece. This one’s a jumping free bop number with a swirling theme that gives everyone a chance to really cut loose. By reacting so positively to the unexpected musical explorations of his son’s childhood buddy, Dennis González has expanded the idea of what a family band might be, and Mittal clearly brings his own thing into the already heady brew of Yells At Eels. Strong stuff, well worth hearing.