Reviews - OTHER DIMENSIONS IN MUSIC.. Now! (AUM006)

JAZZTIMES December 1998
"Far more than just 'energy music' as some critics have dismissed the avant garde, ODIM is onto a group dynamic that is thoughtful, full of nuance and passion, sometimes provocative, sometimes poignant, but never predictable."
-Bill Milkowski

PULSE August 1998
"The key is that no matter how spontaneous the music, the foursome sounds complementary and in control at all times, shaping the sounds with continuous, thoughful modulations of dynamics, color, and intensity. Music that whispers and roars. 4 STARS." -Art Lange

JAZZIZ Top 10 Critics Picks of 1998;
JAZZIZ READER'S POLL TOP 'AVANT' ALBUM OF THE YEAR 1998
Charted at #1 CMJ Jazz.

PLAYBOY On-Line (full review below)
"A tensile, vigorous, stunningly intuitive world of sound, recasting ideas and instincts first made prominent in the Sixties with an often electrifying immediacy that is wholly of the moment: this moment. The genius of this ensemble is how it embraces the open forms and fluid dynamics advanced by those [earlier] avant gardists while imbuing the music with what James Brown would call soul power." -Steve Dollar

CADENCE "What these four create is collective music of experience, drawing on a creative and emotional maturity gained from developing music that consistently pushes and extends the traditions they have taken part in creating."
-Michael Rosenstein

"People think playing without charts is easy, but to make it work, all parts have to be on a high level. You cannot rest on anything you think you have developed. So that is what is beautiful about this. It just keeps on moving." William Parker in PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

THE VALLEY ADVOCATE
"If this vibrant new music [90s avant-jazz] has a supergroup, Other Dimensions is it. The music they play is bathed in a seraphic light. Indeed, supernatural things do happen. These one-of-a-kind events become as much a vehicle for the listener's transformation as for the musician's unfettered self-expression."
-Pete Gershon

SOUNDBOARD (now Signal To Noise) #6 "World-class improvisers who also reach 'other dimensions' in communication. Cosmic tones for 21st century mental healing that demands to be experienced." -Scott Hreha

CMJ NEW MUSIC REPORT June 15, 1998 "The terms 'beautiful' and 'adventurous' seldom intersect in music, and with avant-garde jazz, beautiful balladry is usually pushed aside in favor of dynamic interplay. Throwing out these common precepts, the four musicians in the New York City quartet Other Dimensions In Music make music that is fiercely adventurous and open-ended, but never far from the beauty of balladry." -Tad Hendrickson

WKCR-FM ON AIR GUIDE October 1998 "Perhaps the most remarkable element of the ensemble's playing is the manner in which the music conveys a sense of calm and beauty within a purely free framework. It is as if the goal of the project was to dispense with the notion that free music is difficult to listen to. This album proves that while this type of creative music is engaging and challenging, it can also be logical, comprehensible and welcoming. The wonderful thing about this music is the seemingly endless maze of musical paths and explorations. Still, one hardly needs to strain the mind to grasp how the musicians so successfully ride the miracle of improvised creation. Instead, one can simply enjoy the beauty of how wonderful this brilliant ensemble makes you feel." -Josh Shapiro

MOD MAGAZINE issue No.5 "The weight of the sound, the heat generated by the coming together of forms, perspectives and talents; as well as the altruism involved, is breathtaking. Horns, bass, drums and organic ideas awaken, warm and release you into the chaos of today." -Keith York

PLAYBOY On-Line Review by Steve Dollar
Satchel Paige's cautionary advice to the world, "Don't look back, something might be gaining on you," seems especially germane in jazz these days. It's easy to browse the CD racks and come to the conclusion that there's little happening besides fancy box sets devoted to dead geniuses and cheesy crossover ploys geared for soft-pop formats, neither of which constitute vital signs in a music that began the century bursting with raucous virtuosity. During the Eighties and Nineties, however, two different kinds of renaissances spawned new talent pools, if few old-school "stars." Wynton Marsalis consolidated his views about the virtues of traditional elements of blues and swing with the upscale Jazz at Lincoln Center; and hard-core eclecticist John Zorn hoisted a metaphoric shofar to trumpet a more blatantly post-modern aesthetic, which rotated around a downtown New York club called the Knitting Factory.

But there's another, unfussed-over school of musicians that has been doggedly evolving into a tensile, vigorous, stunningly intuitive world of sound, recasting ideas and instincts first made prominent in the Sixties with an often electrifying immediacy that is wholly of the moment: this moment. And what else would you call an album of this stuff but Now!. It's only the second album in 15 years by the collaborative quartet Other Dimensions in Music, an unheralded supergroup whose collective history spans everything from Times Square subway sessions to lengthy orbits in the world of Cecil Taylor -- the iconoclastic improviser who, with Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra, John Coltrane and Albert Ayler proved there was life after the conventions of hard-bop.

The genius of this ensemble -- Roy Campbell (trumpet), Daniel Carter (reeds, trumpet), William Parker (bass) and Rashid Bakr (drums) -- is how it embraces the open forms and fluid dynamics advanced by those avant-gardists while imbuing the music with what James Brown would call soul power. The rich lyricism of Blue Expanded, a feather-kissed feature for Campbell and Carter, finds the horns in a blissful conspiracy, pursuing an off-kilter unison that slips and slides teasingly until a climactic volley of fevered notes. It's a seamless prelude to Whispers & Cries of Change, Campbell's spotlight for pocket trumpet-- an instrument mostly associated with Coleman's original trumpeter, Don Cherry -- that is elegant in its quickly sketched economy.

Other Dimensions lives up to, and beyond, its name: There are no "tunes" to use as blueprints for improvisation, but there don't need to be. The character of the musicians shines through with such clarity that you might begin humming one of Parker's buoyant, animated bass lines or hear, in Campbell's ripping 16th-note runs, an echo of those robust birth cries that kick-started the century.

PoK MAGAZINE Issue Ten Review by Steve Brydges
Sometimes the most important thing to grasp from listening to music is not what you heard, but what you learned. NOW! contains valuable lessons about the art of interaction. Specifically, listening, dialogue and interjection, supportiveness, space and pace come across as salient themes to ponder after the men have concluded their mission. Of course, there is much more to this record than an academic lesson, as ODIM's specific intent is not to instruct. Rather, the quartet tacitly encourages understanding of their communicative flow through mind-blowing free-improvisation. ODIM create a space where the freedom of movement and the will of the individual are surpassed only by the quartet's wisdom and consideration of their fellow players. This helps explain how William Parker's rounded, inquisitive plucking and wide-mouthed bowing on his strapping bass could invite such feedback from the 'wah-wah' of Roy Campbell's trumpet ("Tears For the Boy Wonder"). Or, how after weaving endless streams of seamless, short blasts and sustained moments of quiet blowing, both Campbell and saxophonist Daniel Carter could simultaneously bow out of "Dawn" to let drummer Rashid Bakr conclude with a tasteful rumbling. As illustrative of the group's intuitiveness of each other as these moments are, these are just a few minutes or even several seconds of pieces that combined, total over seventy-three minutes of music. Reducing NOW! into a series of examples is possible but not as demonstrative as listening to the record, repeatedly, as a whole. From this perspective the welling undercurrent that exists beneath every note, every breath, every toppling drumstick, every fraction of silence is hope. And hope, with all its purity and strengthening capabilities, is nothing standing on its own when compared to the combined faith and trust Other Dimensions In Music put into each other. These men could change the direction of the winds if they so decided. These lessons are just as powerful. Please, listen and take heed. <->