The music on Big Chief Dreaming ranges from Tracanna's catchy, straight-ahead pieces to Tchicai's folkloric-based compositions to Fewell's Don Cherry and Sun Ra-inspired music to completely improvised duos and trios. This recording's 12 tracks reflect the eclecticism of the musicians' influences and connections to a variety of musical styles and scenes, but also document a unified musical goal and a history of collaboration. Although this is their first time playing together, Tchicai and Tracanna have both worked extensively with Fewell in other groups, as has Manzi. Dalla Porta, one of Italy's most accomplished bassists, and Tracanna are also longtime associates.
"Danish saxophonist John Tchicai's contributions to avant-garde jazz are too often overlooked despite his status as the go-to-guy for 60's jazz pioneers in search of a sympathetic improviser," wrote the Philadelphia City Paper's Shaun Brady before a recent Tchicai/Fewell concert. Tchicai's career spans five decades and includes early sideman work with John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp, as well as founding leadership in groups including the New York Contemporary Five and New York Art Quartet and his own well-documented bands. Garrison Fewell's accomplishments during his 30-year career have led critics to call him "one of today's most personal guitar players" (Boston Phoenix), "an assured stylist with a strong sense of tradition" (The New Yorker), "a player of virtuosity and swinging intensity" (UPI), and "refined, passionate, and inspiring" (Guitar Player). Tino Tracanna, one of Italy's most respected musicians, has appeared on more than 40 recordings as a leader and sideman, including longtime collaborations with Franco D'Andrea and the Paolo Fresu Quintet/Sextet.
Scott Menhinick, Improvised Communications