Culture Watch: Chris Dingman’s ‘Waking Dreams’ CD


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Chris Dingman, ‘Waking Dreams’ (Between Worlds)

Between SFJAZZ’s Stefon Harris, Chicago’s Jason Adasiewicz and Chris Dingman in New York, a virtual triangle of jazz vibraphone talent is emerging. A gadfly around the New York scene who was born in San Jose and studied under Anthony Braxton, as well as Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock during his recent stint at the Thelonious Monk Institute, Dingman’s primarily been heard as a sideman with fellow young talents Ambrose Akinmusire and Steve Lehman. Now in his first recording as a bandleader, Dingman emerges as a unique voice in his own right.


Though Akinmusire’s swooning trumpet makes a magnetic appearance on the contemplative ‘Vijayanagara,’ this isn’t a record where the spotlight settles on one soloist for long. That includes Dingman, who is just as comfortable coloring the fringes of various compositions as he is leading the melodic charge. Fabian Almazan’s electric piano forms an intriguing counterweight to Dingman’s vibraphone on the knotty ‘Jet Lag’ and the record’s title track, and an appearance by Erica Von Kleist on flute adds a layer of chamber jazz dynamics to ‘Same Coin.’ Rich and full of unexpected twists but never less than approachable, Dingman’s debut casts an atmospheric spell true to its name.


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-- Chris Barton