WHIT DICKEY — Astral Long Form : Staircase In Space (review)

WHIT DICKEY — Astral Long Form : Staircase In Space album cover Album · 2022 · Avant-Garde Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Yesterday I used the rare opportunity to visit a retrospective exhibition of renown avant-garde artist, probably better known in Europe than in the States, Marina Abramovic. I made a 200 kilometres-long round trip on a warm summer day, and it was worth it. There were many Abramovic filmed happenings demonstrated on the big screens in a modern art gallery, in total darkness, many screens placed at the same hall. There was one, where she is cutting a five-pointed star around her belly button with a razor blade (so-called "Thomas Lips"), filmed in the year 1975. It was very impressive emotionally (knowing that Marina was born in Belgrade, Serbia, in a family of high level Communist party functionaries of former Socialist Yugoslavia), but at the same time it looked like it's coming from very old past. From the times, when the world was divided between modernists and conservatives, at a time of aggressive feminism, sexual revolution and lots of freedoms coming soon. Quite surprisingly, looking back from now at these protests, and the revolution looks very "organic", and let say "natural". And yes, free jazz was a part of it.

In a modern world, which is thousands years away, we understand all these freedoms as natural, but in fact, we are living in a much more conservative world. We have just a few formal restrictions, but we are not really free. Our lives are complex, and nowadays free jazz is not all that free anymore.

American drummer Whit Dickey is one the great figures of New Millennium creative jazz, working with many leaders of the scene. On "Astral Long Form: Staircase In Space" Dickey leads a quartet with sax player Rob Brown, viola player Mat Manieri and bassist Brandon Lopez. Their music is free, but also well organized, clever, knotty and still dreamy at times. One can hear some (possibly) pre-composed pieces here and there, but it still sounds as spontaneous very much. Tagged by the artist as "channeling ecstatic cosmic vibration", it has nothing too much in common with space psychedelia of the 60s. Being still rooted in Coltrane's legacy, it is very a modern take on things, the music, which is miles away from free jazz of "summer of love" era, its not "organic" or "natural" at all. And it is not naïve, it comes from our clever and already slightly tired world, much more complex than last century's 60s.

And it is among best soundtracks of today's life too.
Share this review

Review Comments

Post a public comment below | Send private message to the reviewer
Please login to post a shout
No shouts posted yet. Be the first member to do so above!


Rating by members, ranked by custom algorithm
Albums with 30 ratings and more
A Love Supreme Post Bop
Buy this album from our partners
Kind of Blue Cool Jazz
Buy this album from our partners
The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady Progressive Big Band
Buy this album from our partners
Blue Train Hard Bop
Buy this album from our partners
My Favorite Things Hard Bop
Buy this album from our partners

New Jazz Artists

New Jazz Releases

Eastern Sketchbook Nu Jazz
Buy this album from MMA partners
Kãrtëhl Jazz Related Rock
Buy this album from MMA partners
New Morning Third Stream
Buy this album from MMA partners
Blues For K (Vol. 1 & 2) Hard Bop
Buy this album from MMA partners
More new releases

New Jazz Online Videos

New Morning
js· 13 hours ago
M'dout masaï (feat. Louis Winsberg)
js· 2 days ago
More videos

New JMA Jazz Forum Topics

More in the forums

New Site interactions


Latest Jazz News


More in the forums

Social Media

Follow us