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Dale Fielder Reviews


Dale Fielder THE HIPSTER CD Review 02/01/2002 L.A. Jazz Scene
Dale Fielder Group/Force
By Russell Arthur Roberts

The Hipster of Dale Fielder may very well be the John Coltrane derived saxophonist’s best album to date; as much so for his skillful writing as the group’s deft play. Amazingly, also, as the story goes, the studio time was booked for another artist, but at the last minute the other party canceled and Fielder was asked to step in the other person’s place. Consequently, there was only one quick run-through before the session was committed to posterity.

With bassist Trevor Ware and drummer Thomas White, who have been Fielder regulars, and the percussionist Robert White Jr., his nephew, four-fifths of the group were on somewhat familiar ground. But pianist Danny Grissett, an new face to Fielder, turned out to be a felicitous revelation, for he gives this CD a different kind of lift from Fielder’s prior records, disregarding that a couple are so compositionally divergent that they really can’t be compared to The Hipster. Grissett’s playing, touching upon Mulgrew Miller, has the complete package; beautiful lyricism when called for, thick chords and marked arpeggios and rapidly run lines as necessity dictates. Yet more than that, he plays it all with an expressive fluidity that compares favorably with the best. And Thomas White has always been one of my favorite unsung drummers; commanding your attention, he has that Blakey-like thing going on. As for Ware, always sensitive to the need of his bandmates, he virtually sings when called upon to solo. (Who would want for more?!) Add conguero White to those tunes requiring his specialized skill and the pictures are well on their way to being completed.

But it is Fielder’s broad strokes and finely applied touches that give his artful works and one of Harold Mabern Jr. (I Remember Britt) that extra depth, making The Hipster into a prize approximating a modern mainstream classic. Fielder plays here with his heart in hand and moreover, he has a complete command of his axes (alto, tenor and soprano saxophones) that comes with a musical flair that can only be gained through years of experience.

In anticipation of what critics might say about this album, Fielder states that “. . .[they] will probably say, ‘Oh no new ground was broken!’ . . . as if every jazz artist has to set out to reinvent the wheel every time we play . . . all Miles and Trane set out to do was express being Miles and Trane. We jazz artists tell the stories of our times through the music, nothing more, nothing less. And along the way, it’s about healing people’s consciousness and making them feel joyous. Not about being the next Coltrane.” And in that Fielder and his cohorts definitely succeed!