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Dennis González Yells At Eels - Colorado at Clinton

Stef Gijssels, Free Jazz * * * *

We find González father and sons back on this excellent album with now Aakash Mittal on alto saxophone, a former youth friend of drummer Stefan in elementary school in Dallas whom they lost track of when the family moved. But it's a small world, and many years laters they reconnect, with Mittal having studied with Rudresh Mahanthappa, and no better way of celebrating the reunion than by playing music together and recording it.

The album is great, among the very best of Yells At Eels, with the typical sweeping themes, the rock-influenced rhythm section and the expanded soloing. All tracks are new, with the exception of the third "Wind Streaks In Syrtis Major", which also appeared on the vinyl with the same title. "Shadows" is a slow piece, offering the saxophonist space for contemplative soloing, with subtle accompaniment by the brothers.

The real treat is "Shades Of India", in which Mittal really demonstrates his skill and his apprenticeship with Mahanthappa, with soaring soloing in Indian scales. The composition starts slowly, with bass and drums, then Mittal leads the ever intensifying phrases, shadowed by Dennis in non-Indian scales for a long intro, then half-way the rhythm picks up, the volume increases and we move into full improvisation mode after a few repetitions of the unison theme.

"Constellations On The Ground" is slow and extremely beautiful, with trumpet and sax creating sensitive interweaving of sounds, with Aaron's bass on the foreground, first pizzi, then arco, offering depth and this touch of magnificence which the piece requires.

But it is not the band's style to end in melancholy, but with high intensity powerplay. Stefan very much leads this end track, "Dokonori Shīīto", demonstrating some sustained high energy playing, over which first Mittal, then Dennis González then Aaron play expansive solos, with the whole structure nicely coming together again at the very end.

In short, a well-balanced album, reinforcing the band's quality, with again the added value of its openness to guest musicians and new sounds. The band has its own easily identifiable voice, yet again there are differences.