Ian Dogole – Outside the Box

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Ian Dogole whose name is pronounced like this: “Eye-in Dough-gul” is one of the most fascinating percussion colorist and musician to come out of America.

On Outside the Box – Jazz Journeys & Worlds Beyond a double album that journeys from jazz to worlds beyond, he truly gives credence to the idea that there is absolute magic in the hands of a percussionist who answers the call of the spirit. That he is American and not Native or African, Cuban or Brazilian is even more fascinating as he plays as if he can speak to the elders and to the great spirits in a manner that the great drummers of Native America and Canada, Africa, Cuba and Brazil do. In fact on Alice Coltrane’s ethereal piece on CD1 “Blue Nile” and on “Hermanos Shamanicos Suite” on CD2 Mr. Dogole with the legendary Peruvian flautist, Tito la Rosa gives some evidence that he may even be on the verge of being a sound healing shaman like Mr. La Rosa. What is so magical about Mr. Dogole’s work on every percussion instrument that he plays is that it is superbly vocalastic—whether it is the rebellious yell on the crash of a cymbal, or a shamanistic chatter on the udu drum or the African talking drum. Even more remarkable is the fact that his playing is so evocative that he is capable of transforming musical notes into sharp brushstrokes that paint a colourful spectrum from majestic, dark colours to brilliant, sunlit ones.

The music on the CDs follows a course from classic charts re-imagined in the staccato territory of Mr. Dogole’s own drummer’s language worked in to the jazz idiom. This is followed by a whole CD of music from the rarefied realms of the rest of the world. It would seem that on CD1 Mr. Dogole has formed an ensemble that is more or less a conventional one—with bass and drums, piano and solo melodic and harmonic voices in the form of horns. However, a closer consideration of those very solo voices reveals that they inhabit a tonal-colour and textural spectrum that is wildly different from the ones generally used on this type of music. For instance the lead voices are bass clarinet and the soprano and sopranino saxophones of the fabulous Paul McCandless and that of a wild Welshman, David Tidball, who also plays tenor saxophone in a singular manner. When the more conventional tenor saxophone is employed it is via the exquisite voice of Michael Zilber and there are two charts on which the ensemble is joined by the mythical gimbri and oud player from Morocco, Yassir Chadly. The first of these charts, Alice Coltrane’s song about that fabled river the “Blue Nile”. The torrent of the water is heralded here by the mighty roar of two bass clarinets almost throughout the piece and this culminates in Mr. Chadly’s exalted and breathtaking exhortation of the spirits that cause it to be hidden, making this tune exquisitely desirable. Mr. Chadly’s other star turn comes on “Yemanhu” when his gliding scales on the oud meld with Ian Dogole’s yammering udu drum in a spectacular send up of melody, harmony and polyrhythms to the gods themselves. In between, there is a wonderfully dark and melancholic version of Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman” crowned by a lonesome, wailing solo by Dave Tidball; a quietly magical re-working of Milton Nascimento and Fernando Brant’s “Ponte de Areia” and “Lilia,” re arranged by the pianist, Frank Martin, who is also exquisite on piano throughout the album. The bass and bamboo flute specialist, Bill Douglass has a chance to shine on the ever-so-short “Anticipation” and the Canadian Michael Zilber is outstanding on Wayne Shorter’s “Children of the Night”.

CD2 is a grand musical odyssey into other musical worlds. It begins with a mighty and memorable one through the mysterious Peruvian Andes—a place where the Incas are believed to have welcomed visitors from many light years away. This is a gorgeous suite entitled “Hermanos Shamanicos” which features the mystical Tito la Rosa, a flautist who conjures up music from a spectral dimension every time he blows into his bamboo flutes. The secretive chants and whispered lyrics together with the magical double stops on the flute embalm this music with colours from an altogether other worldly spectrum. Of course, Ian Dogole not only shows off his compositional abilities, but he is, here, the master of anything that he touches—from the udu to the African talking drum and the tongue drum as well as an assortment of shakers. Mr. Dogole shows that he is an ingenious rhythmic colourist in all three parts of this utterly beautiful suite as he follows the ethereal vocals of Tito la Rosa with percussion vocalastics of his own. This CD also features music that is more playful and puckish. The music in “Jungle Jive” and on “Struttin’ with Heine Manush” as well as on “Brother Pax” and “Honey’s Romp” are fine examples of this state of mind. However, undertaking the journey that Mr. Dogole has committed himself to means that the exotic nature of a myriad of worlds is bound to be revealed as the percussionist navigates either by himself or with minimalist accompaniment. Here he has the enchanted company of Paul McCandless on an assortment of pennywhistles, soprano saxophone and also includes a magnificent turn on the oboe, on “Silhouettes of Yesterday”. The most memorable part of this journey is when Ian Dogole stops to observe the mystical “Nature Boy”. This chart also proffers the memorable voice of the sadly, little-known singer Deborah Winters. The percussionist could not have picked a finer partner for this song: Ms. Winters’ voice comes from another world and her magnificent pronunciation and expression is quite unlike any vocalist singing today. She has a lilting tone and is perfect for the mystical lyric of Eden Ahbez’ classic piece.

Any account of Ian Dogole’s epic journey would be remiss if the work of the piano of Frank Martin, the bass of Fred Randolph and the work of Bill Douglass is not praised. They are musicians who appear to inhabit the shadows of ensembles, but leave large and singular imprints on the music that they grace. There is plenty of evidence of this on Outside the Box a record of immense intellect, beauty and memorable moments that ought to win Mr. Dogole a slew of accolades every time this music is showcased.

Track Listing: CD1: Blue Nile; Lonely Woman; Resurgence; Ponte De Areia / Lilia; Anticipation; First Light; Silk Road; Epistrophy; Yemanhu; Children of the Night. CD2: Hermanos Shamanicos Suite, Part I; Hermanos Shamanicos Suite, Part II; Hermanos Shamanicos Suite, Part III; Trusting The Journey; Silhouettes Of Yesterday; Jungle Jive; Saadia; La Plomberie Entr’amis; Struttin’ With Heinie Manush; Nature Boy; Brother Pax; Honey’s Romp.

Personnel: Ian Dogole: dumbek (CD1:1; CD2: 4, 12 ), floor tom (CD1: 1; CD2: 4), cymbals (CD1: 1, 9; CD2: 4), splash cymbal (CD1: 3, 8, 10; CD2: 10), udu (CD1: 2, 4, 7, 9; CD2: 1, 7, 8), shakers (CD1: 7: CD2: 1, 12), “Heck stick” (CD1: 3, 8, 10; CD2: 10); doira (CD2: 4), kalimba (CD2: 5), African talking drum (CD2: 3, 6, 12), tongue drum (CD2: 2), cajón (CD1: 3, 8, 10; CD2: 10), global drum set (CD2: 9), caxixi (CD2: 12), “Hang” (CD2: 11) Balafon (CD2: 12), background vocals, hand claps CD2: 7); Yassir Chadly: gimbri (CD1: 1; CD2: 7), vocals (CD1: 1, 9; CD2: 7); oud (CD1: 9), Handclaps (CD2: 7); Frank Martin: piano (CD1, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10), background vocals, handclaps (CD2: 7); Paul McCandless: bass clarinet (CD1: 1, 2, 6, 8), sopranino saxophone: (CD1: 1), soprano saxophone (CD1: 3, 8, 9; CD2: 4), English horn (CD1: 7), pennywhistles (CD2: 4, 6), background vocals (CD2: 7), handclaps (CD2: 7); Fred Randolph: double bass (CD1: 1 – 4, 7 – 10; CD2: 5), background vocals, hand claps (CD2: 7); Dave Tidball: bass clarinet (CD1: 1, 6), tenor saxophone (CD1: 2, 8, 10), clarinet: (CD1: 3, 7, 9), background vocals, handclaps (CD2: 7); Bill Douglass: bamboo flute (CD1: 5), large flute (CD2: 8), double bass (CD1: 7; CD2: 5, 9); Michael Zilber: soprano saxophone (CD1: 4), tenor saxophone (CD1: 10); Tito la Rosa: flauta de abuelo (CD2: 1), shakapa (CD2: 1, 2), Flauta de dos hemispheres (CD: 2: 3), voice (CD2: 1 – 3); Warren Kahn: synthesiser (CD2: 4); Eric Golub: kokyu (Japanese spike fiddle) (CD2: 8), viola (CD2 9); Deborah Winters: vocals (CD2: 10); Honey: barks (CD2: 12).

Ian Dogole on the web: www.iandogole.com

Label: Global Fusion Music | Release date: April 2013

Reviewed by: Raul da Gama