Suite: Clarity by the Dale Fielder Group/Force is Dale Fielder’s 9th recording. It was originally part of a 2 disc set, Howling Monk (Clarion Jazz 80303) recorded at the Howling Monk jazz club in Inglewood, CA, November of 2002 and released March of 2003. Clarion Jazz CEO and impresario, Leonard Herring, Jr., encouraged Fielder to write the suite, and conceived and produced the project. Mr. Herring felt that it was important enough to re-release the suite on it’s own as a single disc, completely re-mixed and re-mastered. Suite: Clarity may very well prove to become an historic release. There is much to like on this disc: the telepathic interplay of the four Group/Force members (there’s nothing like a band that plays and stays together); the exciting collection of new originals formatted as a 60+ minute jazz suite in 5 movements with a prelude and 2 interludes; the seamless bonding of classic jazz improvisation with jazz composition on the level of Ellington’s, Mingus’, Evans’ or even Gershwin’s extended works; the further blossoming of a major new piano talent in young Danny Grissett, who has gone on to work with Tom Harrell and become one of the top new pianists on the NYC jazz scene; and the further documentation of a saxophonist and composer that is still one of jazz’s best kept secrets.
Suite: Clarity is Fielder’s second major opus, his first extended work being 1997’s Ocean Of Love And Mercy (Cadence Jazz 1071) with his Nonet. Suite: Clarity unfolds seamlessly from beginning to end. This is truly a major work that just gets better on repeated listenings. For the exception of the prelude and ballad, all of the movements are in various grooves of 7/4 time –the odd meter time making the music rhythmic and very accessible to the casual listener. Fielder plays throughout with abandon and authority. He never takes the safe road and is intent on playing pure emotions. Even though he is obviously playing off the cuff and in the moment, everything he plays is very connected emotionally. As the Atlanta, GA weekly, BI jazz critic James Rozzi noted:
“. . . Fielder’s lines always manage fruition, but his style demands that they stray out in left field, just missing the foul pole. Hey, it’s Fielder’s choice, but it’s impossible not to appreciate what he’s doing: shoot from the hip. Some of the finest saxophonists in jazz history –namely Jackie McLean and Eric Dolphy have held this same command. The jazz world could use a few more free-blowing free agents like Fielder.”
Here is someone with something urgent to say and knows how to say it. Throughout, Fielder and Grissett each never fail to deliver the goods. I found Suite: Clarity so engaging, that I was transfixed and I completely lost track of time. The suite is very alchemical and transcends time and space, -its seems that the suite is over far too soon, even though it is a little more than an hour long. The high points of the suite are Fielder and Grissett just ripping apart their solos on "Angelic Gifts", "The Calling" and the killer closer, "You Can Hide, But You Can’t Deny". Fielder employs his “short form” compositional style on "NowSpace" and "The Calling". There is also the awesome beauty of a true modern day ballad in "Glimpse of the Goddess" (dig Grissett’s Interlude that leads into "Glimpse" –simply breathtaking!) Also Trevor Ware’s arco feature on "Prelude", and Thomas White’s feature on Interlude deserve special mention.
Suite: Clarity firmly establishes Dale Fielder as perhaps one of the missing links in jazz – an artist who is firmly established in the jazz tradition, yet is among those leading the way into the future of jazz and is constantly coming up with new things and new ways to grow. I think with this new CD, we are witnessing the emergence of an important jazz composer and saxophonist. The jazz world may want to hide from this fact, but after listening to "You Can Hide, But You Can’t Deny", I don’t think any of us can deny Dale Fielder any longer.