Dapp Theory

The influence of MBASE, a brainy, partial fusing of bebop, hip-hop, the technology of the time it emerged in the mid-1980s, and avant ideas given extra appeal by the visionary compositional mind of Steve Coleman, has been felt strongly on a range of innovators since, particularly on such polymaths as Vijay Iyer and on this side of the Atlantic Steve Williamson and more recently the band Dice Factory. Keyboardist Milne who was a member of Five Elements, one of the key MBASE units of Coleman's, on this new Jimmy Haslip-produced album to be released on 8 September, has led the well regarded but still a little undersung Dapp Theory for 15 years, and this is their third album following on from Layers Of Chance (ObliqSound, 2008), and Y'All Just Don't Know (Concord, 2003). With guitarist Ben Monder a presence on three tracks, Jean Baylor lead vocalist on ‘Katharsis’, a track that also features Gretchen Parlato, joining the Ontario-born Milne, the urban poetry of John Moon a Mike Ladd-like presence particularly on ‘Photographs’, saxophonist Aaron Kruziki, bassist Chris Tordini, and drummer Kenny Grohowski, Forward In All Directions steps away a little from the more involved circuitry of MBASE, although there is still a tendency to look a little intensely under the bonnet, and concentrates instead on the sheer craft of each piece. Carefully arranged via an array of complex meters and complicated parts with interesting shifts in mood and texture performed with a serious but not too dour intelligent jazz-rock intent in the more driving ensemble passages, the music here all composed by Milne wouldn’t sit out of place on a Chick Corea Origin record or a Dave Holland quintet record. Milne occasionally lets his hair down on some flamboyant runs (for instance on Fender Rhodes on ‘How and When Versus What’, which also features some searing Benny Maupin-like passages from Aaron Kruziki after some initial jousting with Milne). But this is a band record rather than a parade of solos. Worth seeking out. SG