Issue No. 281
CHRIS DUNDAS GROUP AT BLUE WHALE
Pianist, arranger and composer Chris Dundas brought his quintet to a newer venue, the Blue Whale, located in Japan Town (near San Pedro and 2nd streets), L.A., on November 28th. His ensemble presents jazz in a thoroughly interesting way, combining several forms of music and leaning towards avant-garde jazz. His band members are all strong players with extensive and diversely notable musical credits. Marty Krystall (tenor sax), Ken Rosser (guitar), Steuart Liebig (electric bass), Alex Cline (drums) and Chris Dundas (piano) made up this ensemble. Blue Whale is a unique jazz bar, decorated nicely inside and out, and has a somewhat unusual way of seating patrons, in that their seats are different sizes, but still comfortable. They have a reasonably good food menu offered for patrons, too.
When I arrived, the group was playing "Horizons," a tune performed by the rock group Genesis, featuring Rosser on guitar, making a show of what his instrument can do. They finished the first set with a Peter Erskine composition, "Bulgaria," with an interesting array of solos from this exploratory number. Dundas has an inexhaustible supply of interesting piano chords and right-hand combinations that were a joy to listen to.
The second set from Dundas' group began with a Thelonious Monk composition, "Reflections." They played it as a duo only, Dundas on piano and Krystall on tenor sax. The number came out very well. Continuing, they played a very good rendition of Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee" as a trio. Bassist Liebig gave the fans a fine solo on his electric bass â€“ a Fodera that sounded full and had definitely a good sound for lower notes. Drummer Cline and bassist Liebig traded eight- and four-bar breaks. "Simpatico," an original by Dundas, showed the group's instrumental abilities. Other tunes were the 50's standard, "Too Young To Go Steady," Joanne Brackeen's "Haiti-B," and the closer, "Well-Tempered Clavier Book 1, Prelude 22 in B flat minor" by J.S. Bach, all interesting as jazz music.
Glenn A. Mitchell, L.A. Jazz Scene
Pianist Chris Dundas is not as well-known as his Los Angeles-based sidemen, but he holds his own on his fine modern mainstream jazz self-titled date. The music ranges from a funky blues ("Ninety Minute Man") and worthy revivals of "Delilah" and "Autumn Leaves" to a rare version of Joanne Brackeen's "Haiti-B," an easy-listening ballad ("I Want You Back"), and a closing solo piano piece ("So Tender"). Bob Sheppard takes excellent post-bop solos on tenor and soprano, guitarist Buzz Feiten adds a rock feel while displaying versatility, bassist Dave Carpenter's playing clearly inspires everyone, and drummer Peter Erskine keeps the music stimulating. The variety of the compositions and the many moods make this CD consistently of strong interest. Well worth checking out.
Issue No. 183
What an all-star lineup Chris Dundas has selected to work out with him! For partners, the pianist has saxophonist Bob Sheppard, guitarist Buzzy Feiten, bassist Dave Carpenter, and drummer Peter Erskine on hand to help him rock the joint. Half of his program is original material, while the other half comes from the standard repertoire. Their collaborative sound is fresh and exciting. Audio samples of "Autumn Leaves," "Haiti-B," "Simpatico" and "Ninety Minute Man" may be found at www.chrisdundas.com. The pianist has included both light, smooth jazz and dramatic, modern mainstream jazz in this debut program. His interpretation of Joanne Brackeen's intense "Haiti-B" sparkles with passion, while several originals mellow into smooth oblivion. While interpreting Keith Jarrett's "So Tender," unaccompanied, Dundas exhibits the lyrical sense of melody and harmony that prove to be his greatest strengths. As a singer would caress each line and impart contextual meaning, he phrases the ballad in such a way that we can clearly appreciate the song's purpose. Dundas has made a great start to what undoubtedly will be a long and successful jazz career.