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Go Figure by Damon Short

Chicago based drummer/composer Damon Short has studied the music of Harry Partch, played in a gamelan ensemble and performed and recorded both as a leader and sideman in a wide range of configurations and styles during a career spanning some three decades. Many of the influences he's acquired and lessons he's learned over that time are on display over the course of the seven tracks of Go Figure, recorded in 1997 by the sextet that Short describes as his "national group" (the players having become nationally dispersed over the years) with the addition on four tracks of saxophonist Chuck Burdelik.

Short's affection for the avant-garde is well represented here, but there's a compositional discipline apparent that offers accessibility to the listener even when the music goes outside. The composer has had a musical relationship with some of these players for as long as twenty years, so he's able to craft material that draws on their particular abilities, and he provides plenty of room for them to display those abilities. Three tracks run nearly ten minutes, one fourteen and the centerpiece, "Gardens Of Perception," times in at 24:42. Creating long form avant-garde compositions laden with improvisational passages for seven musicians is a daunting task, but one that Short is fully up to. It's hard to pick out individual contributions since the ensemble plays so cohesively and, as Short says in the accompanying notes, remembers that "the music comes first." In fact, the most noteworthy star turn is made by Short himself, when he lays aside the drumsticks at the beginning of "Gardens Of Perception" in favor of vibraphone mallets and delivers an impressive performance that reflects both his gamelan training and his unerring improvisational instincts.

This is an impressive and enjoyable effort from an outstanding group of musicians presenting the product of an impressively creative mind.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Damon Short
  • CD Title: Go Figure
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2002
  • Record Label: 9 Winds
  • Tracks: Permutation, Go Figure, Old School, Anesthesiology, Flag Day, Gardens Of Perception, Anthem
  • Musicians: Damon Short (drums), Paul Smoker (trumpet), Ryan Schultz (bass trumpet), Jim Yanka (guitar), Paul Scea (tenor, soprano, flute, bass clarinet), Chuck Burdelik (tenor, bari), Larry Korhut (bass)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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