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Dylan Jack Quartet | Diagrams

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Jazz: Modern Creative Jazz Avant Garde: Free Improvisation Moods: Type: Improvisational
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by Dylan Jack Quartet

"There’s a raw and honest spirit and a highly refined sense of detail in the music of Dylan Jack, a gifted drummer and composer. There’s also a roiling spontaneity and brilliant clarity in the sound of his quartet." - David Adler
Genre: Jazz: Modern Creative Jazz
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Are You Made of Coins?
7:53 $0.99
2. Sentenced
11:31 $0.99
3. Ghost Pal
13:57 $0.99
4. Geometry
7:21 $0.99
5. Compare and Contrast
7:46 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Dylan Jack Quartet

There’s a raw and honest spirit and a highly refined sense of detail in the music of
Dylan Jack, a gifted drummer and composer hailing from the North Shore of
Massachusetts. There’s also a roiling spontaneity and brilliant clarity in the sound of
his quartet, made up of Jack, Eric Hofbauer on guitar, Todd Brunel on woodwinds and
Anthony Leva on bass. Diagrams is their compelling debut release. !
Jack offers a bit of the backstory: “The lineup came together when Anthony, who I’d
been playing with for a couple of years prior, brought Todd, Eric, and me on board for
a gig he had booked in late 2015. I’d never met Eric or Todd before that, but the
connection was pretty special. We played some free tunes and ‘Geometry’ from this
record. It left such an impression that I contacted everyone to play on my graduate
MM recital at Longy School of Music [Bard College] the following May. That evening we
played ‘Geometry’ as well as ‘Are You Made of Coins?’ and ‘Sentenced.’ Everyone
wanted to play more, so we booked gigs and this recording session.” Soon after,
Hofbauer suggested a release on his own Creative Nation label. !
As an undergrad, Jack studied at McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, MN under
drummer/composer Marv Dahlgren, whom he credits as “the most important musical
figure in my life since our first lesson.” Through Dahlgren, Jack explains, he gained
“the inspiration to create compositions out of exercises or ‘tools’ — sticks, brushes,
mallets, extended techniques, etc. Thanks to him my practice sessions can turn into
compositions.” This is why we hear such refreshing unpredictability in Jack’s approach
to form, harmony and rhythmic structure, a distillation of everything he’s learned not
only from Dahlgren but other role models such as Frank Zappa, Duke Ellington, Iannis
Xenakis and Edgard Varèse. !
Interestingly, as a drummer Jack cites trumpeters as a major influence: “Don Cherry,
Dizzy Gillespie, and Louis Armstrong are some of the players that I look to for melodic
and rhythmic inspiration.” The drummers he admires form quite a list: Dahlgren, Ed
Blackwell, Roy Haynes, “Papa” Jo Jones, Sunny Murray, Terry Bozzio, Billy Cobham and
Tony Williams. “These drummers vary stylistically but all strive for complete control
of all four limbs and a sophisticated sense of melody and time/polyrhythms. That
level of control is what I strive for every day behind the kit.” !
One can hear that sort of discipline and aesthetic sensitivity from every member of
quartet, beginning with Leva. “I met Tony when I joined a band called Jaggery in
February 2014. We played avant-garde rock with a heavy jazz influence. Tony and I
were the only ones allowed to improvise, so for two years we developed a strong level
of trust that transferred over to this quartet. Tony’s style grounds all of us as one unit
instead of having four different musicians run wild. He’s not necessarily a ‘jazz’
player by definition, but that’s why I wouldn’t want any other bass player on this
record. There’s a child-like innocence to his playing. His solos remind me of nursery

Hofbauer lends the music not just an adventurous harmonic sense but also a gutsy
wood-and-steel timbre, far from what Jack calls the “sweet, clean tone” favored by
many modern jazz plectrists. “There are some really scary moments where he and I
are so together that I wonder how it’s even possible,” says Jack. “His rhythmic sense
is unmatched and his sense of harmony is just as great. As someone who likes to use
chords as melody-enhancers, I’m amazed at how Eric enhances the melody-enhancers!
It’s absolutely amazing.”

Of Brunel, Jack enthuses: “Todd’s contribution as an improviser is electric. He wrote
the countermelody on ‘Sentenced’ (0:32-0:42) in a rehearsal leading up to the date.
He adds a great deal of intensity and leadership and attention to dynamics, always
pushing ahead and directing the band to follow him on his journey.” The combination
of woodwinds and guitar, moreover, brings a textural uniqueness to the music, and
Brunel’s fluency on clarinet, bass clarinet and soprano saxophone keeps the band in a
state of continual flux.

Jack’s written material is difficult, but the difficulty is no obstacle to open
exploration and rich interactivity. In fact it’s a gateway. There’s plenty of harmonic
information and movement, but Jack’s harmonies don’t move in the way you’d
expect, and for good measure Hofbauer doesn’t voice them that way either. “When I
resolve chords, I’m not looking to resolve them based on the rules of Western
harmony,” Jack comments. “I’m more interested on whether it is pleasing to my ears
and if it works with my melody.”

- David Adler
New York, May 2017



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