Guitarist David Gilmore (not the Pink Floyd guitarist David GilMOUR) has been prolific as a sideman, composer and educator. Leader? Not as much. But when he’s gotten around to making a record, it’s made an impact. His first, Ritualism (2001) was nominated for the Debut CD for that year by the Jazz Journalists Association. Album #2, Unified Presence, came out in 2006 and featured the contributions of Ravi Coltrane (sax), Jeff “Tain” Watts (drums), Claudia Acuña (voice) and Christian McBride (bass). In between those albums, this former Lost Tribe member received a commission from the Chamber Music America New Works Composer Grant that enabled him to create a major piece, “African Continuum,” which was played to audiences during 2003. He’s worked with a list of luminary musicians too long to adequately list here, but it ranges from Wayne Shorter and Dave Douglas to Joss Stone and Mavis Staples. So from his history, we can tell he’s experienced, accomplished, diversified and respected, and has his own, highly-developed musical vision.
With these attributes in tow, Gilmore had only recently set out to follow up Unified Presence with a collective set of original compositions, in sum called Numerology. This title reflects Gilmore quest to musically explore ancient mathematician Pythagoras’ principle that the numbers 1 to 9 represent the “universal principles and progressive cycles in life.” But Gilmore didn’t just author the concept, for this record he performed it live, at the Jazz Standard in NYC, and with an incredible band. McBride, Watts and Acuña return, joined by Luis Perdomo (piano), Mino Cinelu (percussion) and Miguel Zenón (alto sax). Combined with Gilmore’s own guitar abilities, which is heady, diverse, fluid and discriminating, and there’s no way this record can fail.
And, of course, it doesn’t.
Pythagoras’ nine cycles are represented by Gilmore’s seven music cycles (the first track “Expansion” representing the first three), each defined by different, constantly recurring melodic constructs that evolve, supplemented by soloists Zenón, Perdomo and Gilmore. Meanwhile, Gilmore has devised some sophisticated, interlocking rhythmic patterns underneath realized superbly by Watts, McBride and Cinelu: “Four: Formation,” for example, is a syncopated groove that’s only possible by three of the best at these respective instruments. That groove continues on in slightly modified form into “Five: Change,” where Gilmore’s clean tone and funky licks puts an attractive bow on the song before moving right into the shifty “Six: Balance,” which is underscored first by Cinelu’s kinetic percussion and then Zenón’s fiery alto.
Gilmore’s fascination with world music comes to the fore on “Eight: Manifestation,” combining layered Western African rhythms with equally complex jazzy harmonics; though the guitarist doesn’t solo on this track, his internationally-aware rhythm patterns play a big part with Watts and Cinelu in pouring on those layers in a congruent way.
Acuña’s vocal talents aren’t there to sing lyrics but play a role in harmonizing the main thematic lines. Her presence signals the importance to Gilmore that no matter how sophisticated things might get, the melody doesn’t get buried, and you can hear her making sure the melody has clear definition especially on the tracks “Expansion,” “Seven: Rest” and “Nine: Dispersion.”
A well engineered, mixed and edited document, Numerology: Live At The Jazz Standard captures the vigor of a band playing in the moment with studio-like fidelity. David Gilmore’s highly developed grasp of both composition and technique isn’t on full display nearly enough, but he makes those 5-6 year waits between records worth it.
Numerology: Live At The Jazz Standard will be released November 6 by Evolutionary Music. Visit David Gilmore’s site for more info.
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Feature photo courtesy of Two For The Show Media.