Dennis González - The Great Bydgoszcz Concert

Stef Gijssels, Free Jazz

Dallas-based trumpet-player Dennis González will always be one of my favorites for this warm and solid tone, his openness of mind and the emotional power of his music. With the exception of "Paura", his music is always very rooted in bop, but then of the free-er and sometimes the harder kind, while remaining open to more rock-influenced adventures, the latter possibly under the influence of his two musical sons with whom he forms the trio "Yells At Eels".

This year González seems to be very productive, releasing in quick succession his third, fourth and fifth album of the year. Dennis González has the incredible knack of making his albums, even the more free ones, accessible, recognizable too, yet while keeping a fresh approach, re-inventing himself, remaining open to the rest of the world. And you get the impression that the trumpeter gets as much pleasure from listening to his fellow musicians, giving them the floor and enjoying their music, as much as playing himself. A true musician. No wonder he has played with so many of today's top musicians.

On this album the aforementioned trio (Dennis González on trumpet, Aaron González on bass, and Stefan González on drums) becomes a quartet with Portuguese Rodrigo Amado on tenor, a musician who we've reviewed before and with whom González already played in Amado's Lisbon Improvisation Players. The music here shows the wide variety of the band, together with their respect for the masters: Ornette Coleman's joyful "Happy House" gets a fine rendition, and so does Krzystof Komeda's sad "Litania", at the same time offering a great illustration of the musical span of this album, varying between the cinematic, the melancholy, the boppish and the free, but always with that modern infusion added by the González sons. Stefan González' long opening track "Crow Soul" has the kind of hypnotic rock rhythm that reminds a little of Terje Rypdal's Odissey. A great album.