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Inner Journey by The Kevin Dorsey Collective

Inner Journey is Kevin Dorsey's first project consisting entirely of his own compositions. The recording reflects Dorsey's diverse and extensive composition background. The compositions exhibit his broad palette of influences and talents, from world music, and straight ahead jazz to Latin. The Collective assembles a group of extremely talented players for this project including Bob Piorun, a guitarist whom Dorsey has worked with before on more than one occasion. Other players include; Bill Pomares on saxophones and bass clarinet, and Jerry Bower on percussion, notably not on drums. This small detail becomes a defining characteristic of the disc. Bower and Dorsey establish a rapport as the rhythm section that provides a solid groove for each piece but so musical and melodic is this groove that time and meter become absorbed in the melody and you feel the beat from note to note ever so subtly.

The opening track Xander's Dance sets the tone rhythmically, when you hear the percussion instruments in the opening bars, you hear the melody and rhythm merging. This is the theme for most of the composition. Dorsey has provided a subtle but colorful theme for Piorun and Pomares to expand on. They waste no time in expanding the theme and you quickly feel good and sense the communication between artists. The listener knows early on in this CD that this is going to be a different kind of jazz. It sounds like a million other recordings, but like nothing else they have heard before. I attribute that to Dorsey's creative talent for composing songs that are built on familiar themes but then treated with his unique approach. Call and Response, the second track feature Piorun and Pomares interpreting the melody in call and response format. Again, it is so well orchestrated over the underlying rhythm that going from soloist to soloist is seamless and yet they each paint a different picture with their own instruments. The piece is a pleasant listen.

Piorun shines in his gentle treatment of Evening Awaits, shades of Pat Metheny can be heard in Piorun's execution. What makes this Piorun's own, is that the guitar never "steps" on the other instruments, like Metheny so often does on really soft tracks. The interplay between Dorsey's double bass and Piorun's guitar are magical. Bower provides just enough energy with the cymbal playing to accent the piece, but never interferes with what Dorsey and Piorun are trying to do either. The synergy between these three is most evident in this quite but substantial piece. The transition from track to track is another subtle but important aspect of this disc. While no two tracks are the same, the elements of the disc and the theme of the project are carried from track to track in a very methodical way. One example is the transition from Evening Awaits to Miss, again built on the percussion underlying the piece, but featuring Pomares on soprano sax, this piece is gentle like Evening Awaits but with more expression provided by Pomares.

Dorsey's Latin experience is brought out in Las Olas Del Mar, here the shift to bass clarinet is again a subtle but defining choice that changes the texture of the song enough to soften the message. The piece is the second longest track on the CD at 7:20, but like the others moves so quickly through the melody and is handled so smoothly by each artist that you feel like it ended too soon.

Remembrance is Pomares piece from beginning to end. He interprets Dorsey's composition in such a haunting way that one can't help but think that the piece is meant to eulogize someone or something. The ballad has the depth of chord changes to allow Pomares to wring out all the images enclosed in the title. Dorsey's own double bass solo is itself a poised and thoughtful treatment of the theme.

Wednesday Night is a great transition song from Remembrance to the final title piece. This song swings in a straight ahead jazz fashion and allows both Piorun and Dorsey to strut their stuff. What is amazing is the groove that they lay down in that absence of a drummer, per se. Dorsey has proven himself as a composer in this work, but what is more impressive is his collaboration with these artists to master the delivery of these simple but solid compositions.

Inner Journey is the title piece of the project and is deservingly so. It highlights the compositional excellence of Dorsey and features the group doing what they do best, collaborating. The groove is solid from start to finish, Dorsey and Bower laying down a world beat style that allows Piorun and Pomares to do their thing. This is Dorsey's best effort as the bassist behind the music. He provides the bottom to each of the soloists in turn, and is ever-present complimenting them and yet never leaving the groove that he and Bower have established. This song, like all the others, but more so, demonstrates how the collaborative have gelled into one instrument and synergistically deliver the music. Dorsey's solo is the crowning jewel in this gem of a project. I listened to this work in various environments, but the best was in a quiet room with a great pair of head phones! The quality of the playing comes through with the quality of the production of this piece and you feel like they are playing for you alone. Dorsey's Inner Journey becomes your own and then you are one with the Collaborative.

Inner Journey by The Kevin Dorsey Collective is a solid listen and I highly recommend it to those who seek to be drawn into a genuinely pleasurable inner journey of Jazz.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: The Kevin Dorsey Collective
  • CD Title: Inner Journey
  • Genre: Contemporary Jazz / Modern
  • Year Released: 2003
  • Record Label: Independent
  • Rating: Five Stars
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