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Cadence Jazz CJR-1213, 60:28,
George Dulin on the web
Remembering Take Toriyama

review by Craig Nixon

George Dulin likes to take things apart. And put them back together again. That's just what the Kansas City born pianist does with several standards on his debut recording for Cadence Jazz. Dulin applies his skillful compositional hand to "de-rangements" of "On Green Dolphin Street," "Stella By Starlight," "I'll Remember April" and "Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise," making them over into compositions that are wholly his own. These all-too-common Real Book tunes form a springboard for the pianist's original charts, all but obscuring the original changes. Dulin and bandmates bassist Danny Zanker and drummer Take Toriyama fairly eat up the pianist's tunes, some of which are fiendishly difficult.

Don't let the de-ranged standards fool you; this is not a cookie-cutter, "Young Lions" conservative trio date. The Disband is an incredibly tight, cohesive unit that clearly has fun navigating Dulin's tunes, most of which are complex, all of which are seriously swinging. "Stingray," a re-invention of "On Green Dolphin Street," kicks things off on a high note. Over Toriyama's stuttering funk beat Dulin reels off a choppy 16th note line that never repeats itself, much like a funk-infused Lennie Tristano. Toriyama's solo exchanges are as funky as they are inventive. In fact, and I think George Dulin would agree, much of the distinctive sound of the trio stems from the drummer's unique approach. Take simultaneously melds jazz swing, funk, rock chops, and avant garde inventiveness into one singular and individual sound that could range from swinging to slamming.

Texas born bassist Danny Zanker is a fine anchor for the group. With a big sound, excellent intonation and facility to spare, his several solo turns are impressive beginning with the first track. The pianist himself manages to avoid cliché by assimilating his influences, rather than aping them. Several quick nods to Don Pullen here and there form a blink of an eye tribute to a late master, and some of Dulin's long, fluid fast lines recall the dexterity of Kenny Werner. Two anagram-titled pieces, "Cerebral Dongnosh" (Arnold Schoenberg) and "Johnsugar VII" (Dulin's associate, fiery young saxophonist Joshua Irving) suggest Dulin has heard the Russian pianist Simon Nabatov.

Two Monk pieces, "Round Midnight" and "Monk's Mood", are the only non-originals here. These are not deconstructed as with Dulin's originals based on standard forms, but played relatively straight, or as straight as a 5/4 "Monk's Mood" can be. New York drummer Jordan Perlson is in for two tracks that were recorded at a later session that served as the pianist's entry demo for the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition.

Crisply recorded at an un-named New York studio (with a good piano, to boot), Ride of Your Life is an impressive debut from an artist that we're sure to hear more of in the future.


Sadly, before this disc could see release Take Toriyama passed away at the age of 38. Having seen some measure of success as a rock drummer in his native Japan with 20th Century Junior, Toriyama came to the states seeking more creative opportunity. He played with a raft of jazz masters, and also imbedded himself in the Brooklyn-based avant garde scene. Well respected, and loved by many, his creative fiery playing on this date is a fitting remembrance of a highly individual voice that was silenced much too early.

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