Other Dimensions in Music
Rollins College, Orlando, Florida • September 17, 1999
There was something else on that stage. I saw it. Everyone else must have, as well. I saw those four artists blowing a creature to life, and it was shaking on that stage. It was the Shape of Jazz, not to come, but right there, in that room. Other Dimensions in Music summoned this mad beast, and away it flailed, back and forth, up and down, and right in your face. At times it seemed that it would run amok in the crowd, but this amazing quartet always had it under control.
ODIM may be considered part of the avant-garde community, but don’t mistake this for a loud and brash ensemble. ODIM pay attention to the virtual space created by their music. They can fill the room with loud percussive blasts and suddenly drop them to reveal a softly probing melody. While much of the avant-garde community focuses of testing the limits of patience with dissonance (I’m lucky I have a high threshold), ODIM tempers their music with melody. To paraphrase something I heard somewhere, “It’s like hearing a 30 minute ballad, but more so.”
Seeing this music live and hearing it on CD is a totally different experience. CDs can’t capture the magic of actually being able to see this music created before your eyes. Watching bassist William Parker pick up a second bow and proceed to slash vigorously at his strings, creating a massive tone cloud, just doesn’t carry the same weight on a piece of plastic. Seeing Daniel Carter spray notes every which way by swaying to and fro like a snake charmer doesn’t come across on record, either.
The first set started slowly. Daniel Carter and Roy Campbell blew soft sonorous textures on sax and trumpet, respectively. Drummer Rashid Bakr and William Parker held up the rhythm section, but they never faded into the background. They consistently added to the structures, and at times, rent them to shreds. The piece grew in intensity, slowly creating and releasing tension until the final crescendo of sound. The second piece was a more subdued affair. Carter led the melodies with tight, spiraling flute lines. Campbell switched to a flugelhorn for this number, and Bakr used mallets to fill the hall with deep resonates. The third piece totally changed gears from the softly beautiful prior piece. ODIM dropped the funk on an unsuspecting crowd. Campbell launched into a stomping tirade with his pocket trumpet. The final piece saw ODIM play deft improvisations and trade solos to great effect.
The second set consisted of two pieces: a monolith of music, and a shorter, more concise statement. For about 30-40 minutes (time seemed to freeze and I forgot to check my watch), Other Dimensions in Music embarked on a jazz odyssey. To describe it would simply be futile. They ended on a lighter note that left everyone in a good mood.
Let me use this space to say this: if you have the slightest opportunity to see creative music live, GO FOR IT, NO MATTER WHAT IT TAKES. Go to a show and bring a friend. Buy a T-shirt and a CD, and bug everyone you know about how great the show was afterwards. Support the artists that enrich your life so much. This community exists because of YOU. End of Rant.
Jazz is organic, alchemical, and magickal. To go to a show by an ensemble of this caliber is a life affirming experience.