Wednesday, August 26, 2009

With a Sense of Tradition...

More than ten years ago (closer to fifteen now that I come to think about it) I heard Dallas trumpet player/composer/bandleader/artist/teacher Dennis Gonzalez for the first time. It was his albums The Earth and the Heart and Catechism. If I remember correctly, I read a glowing review for both and felt I should check out his music and these were recordings by him that were most easily attainable at the time. I was very impressed. Enough so that I chose The Earth and the Heart as one of the featured recordings for a music listening group to which I belonged. And, as is so often the case, my attention shifted as my scope of musical experience broadened. This seemed to coincide with a hiatus which Dennis took for a good portion of the 90's. In any event, his music was always in the back of my mind waiting to resurface.

Then in the early 2000's (which, I'm told, is called the "aughties") Dennis began to release a number of outstanding recordings on the Clean Feed label and my love affair with his music returned stronger than ever. I immediately knew I had to track down every Dennis Gonzalez recording I could find. I tracked down all his Silkheart recordings from the second half of the 80's, his recording Welcome To Us that was rereleased by Koch and all of his Clean Feed recordings that were available. It was at this point that I decided to present a multi-part series on the jazz radio show I co-hosted called NOW'S THE TIME. The more I read about Dennis Gonzalez the more I realized there was a tremendous gap in the recordings I possessed. So I wrote him asking how I could get all the recordings he released on his own daagnim label and whether he would agree to an email interview.
He replied with a gracious email detailing what he had available and that he would do the interview. Once I received all his music and began to listen to it all, I determined I would need six 90 minute shows to even remotely do this man's music justice. When I announced to my fellow NTT hosts my intentions they were dubious. None of them were familiar with his music and all felt six shows devoted to a "fringe" player was a bit excessive. I told them to listen to the first show if they needed convincing...
As the series progressed all agreed that Dennis Gonzalez, indeed, deserved six shows.
And this is what I offer up today: the six programs in the Dennis Gonzalez series. I decided to do this because the five of us who have been hosting NTT since 2003 have decided to pack it in. Our last episode airs this Thursday night. So, as a personal tribute to the show and a plug for the music of Dennis Gonzalez, I make the downloads for each of the six episodes available here. Check them out. I'm sure you will discover music you love.
Episode 1 - Intro show
Episode 2 - The daagnim years
Episode 6 - The summation
Here are some of the recordings featured throughout the series (Dennis has recorded almost 40 releases in his career, many no longer available).



  1. Ah, jeez, you're gonna make me cry here, Ron. Long live NTT!

  2. Thanks for a chance to get an overview of Dennis's output, the little of which I've heard I liked a lot.

  3. Thanks so much for posting this. I just discovered your blog through this post and will definitely check out more! I've been really into the music of Dennis Gonzalez since first hearing about him about a year ago. In my estimation, he's easily one of the most underrated and innovative improvising musicians around today. I find his music almost hypnotic, for lack of a better descriptor.

    This is what I've tracked down so far:
    a matter of blood
    renegade spirits
    earth and the heart
    dance of the soothsayer's tongue
    band of sorcerers
    debenge debenge
    hymn for tomasz stanko
    no photograph available
    NY MIdnight suite
    Idle Wild
    2009-11-10 barcelona

    But I didn't realize he had so many other recordings. Finding your post has reminded me I should head over to his website and see if there's any new recordings available to purchase.

    If you ever feel like posting any of Dennis Gonzalez's older out of print stuff you mentioned in your post, that would be really cool.

    In any case, a belated thanks for this amazing post! Look forward to listening to these radio shows!!