A Rippling Jazz Rarity From Chris Dingman
Chris Dingman gets a lot of work, some of it in places where jazz vibraphonists aren’t usually found. If you listen to New York public radio, you may have heard several of his themes on WNYC. His latest album, Embrace – streaming at his music page – is a rarity in the jazz world: a vibraphone trio record. It has the catchiness of his radio work; the lingering lushness of Milt Jackson also comes to mind. Here Dingman’s joined by Linda May Han Oh on bass and Tim Keiper on drums. One of the album’s coolest touches is how Dingman’s right and left hand are panned in the stereo mix; it often seems like there’s a second set of vibes here.
He opens the album’s starry opening track, Inner Child with a lullaby theme, the rhythm shifting between waltz time and a more straightforward, syncopated pulse. Baby steps from the bass introduce a vamping, soul-tinged tune which finally gains critical mass with a big tumble from the vibes.
Dingman works a similarly rippling vamp up to a catchy, anthemic chorus in Find a Way: see, they got there pretty quick! The lithe bass/drums interlude is something you might expect from a vibraphonist; the stairstepping waves afterward, maybe not. He shifts to a gentle, resonantly summery, West African-tinged 6/8 sway with Ali, set to a mutedly circling groove.
Dingman builds The Opening-Mudita around a series of insistentlly hypnotic echo phrases, then expands them. Oh’s catchy, dancing bass riff is a stepping-off point for more of the same in Goddess, building a gentle rainstorm in the second half. Forgive/Embrace opens on a similarly lush note, then grows more kinetic as Dingman advances into and then backs away from a series of circular phrases.
A carefree pop anthem provides a lilting foundation for Hijinks and Wizardry. The steady processional, Steps on the Path is just as catchy if more sober. Dingman closes the album with Folly of Progress, a funky study in loopy phrasing. If twinkling, glimmering, trance-inducing music is your thing, you can get lost in this.